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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Are the Milwaukee Bucks a Historically Great Team?

This season, NBA media coverage has focused a spotlight on--in no particular order--the new-look Lakers, the new-look Clippers, the emergence of Luka Doncic as an MVP candidate, Joel Embiid's every utterance (no matter how silly or inconsequential), rookie Zion Williamson (who will miss more than half of the season even if he plays in every game the rest of the way), the return of Carmelo Anthony, Houston going all-in on small ball, and every single real and imagined source of drama with the two New York teams.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks are on pace to become just the third team in NBA history to win at least 70 regular season games. The first team to win a least 70 regular season games, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10), is arguably the greatest team of all-time; the Bulls won the title that season, and then won the next two titles as well. The second team to win at least 70 regular season games, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73-9), had already won the 2015 title and then, after losing in the 2016 Finals, won the next two championships after acquiring Kevin Durant.

In other words, although the sample size of 70 win teams is small, each of the two teams that  accomplished this feat proved to be a dynasty that won multiple championships.

No one seems to think about or talk about the Bucks in those terms, even though the Bucks went an NBA-best 60-22 last season. Perhaps some of the skepticism about the Bucks stems from the fact that the Bucks squandered a 2-0 lead versus the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, but consider that if the Bucks had won game three of that series (a contest that went to overtime) they likely would swept the Raptors and then beaten Golden State to win the title.

The Bucks were a championship-caliber club last season, and rather than making any excuses about falling short they have come back this season with renewed focus and energy. You have to look long and hard to find any weaknesses with this team: the Bucks lead the league in scoring (120.8 ppg), point differential (12.2 ppg), defensive field goal percentage (.412), and rebounding differential (5.9 rpg). They also rank second in field goal percentage (.483), third in blocked shots (6.8 bpg), and fifth in assists (26.2 apg). Perhaps the only slight blemishes are that the Bucks are in the middle of the pack in three point field goal percentage (.362, 15th), and they are near the bottom of the league in free throw percentage (.738, 27th).

The Bucks also have the 2019 regular season MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sets a mature tone for this team: he refuses to be called the reigning MVP--stating that he must prove himself all over again this season--and he refuses to work out with players from opposing teams during the offseason. Antetokounmpo is confident but humble, and he has worked very hard to become a complete player: he scores, he rebounds, he passes, he defends, and he leads. He is not a pure shooter, but he is an improving shooter, and the many things that he does at the highest level more than make up for the one skill that he does not do at the highest level (which is not to say that he should be--or is--satisfied with his shooting). 

The Bucks are 50-8 after winning 108-97 in Toronto in the second game of a back to back set, and the Bucks had already clinched a playoff berth earlier in the season than any other team in NBA history. The defending NBA champion Raptors built a double digit first half lead, but the Bucks trimmed that margin to 52-50 by halftime, and then the Bucks dominated the third quarter 34-19.

The Raptors had a good game plan against the Bucks (keep Antetokounmpo out of the paint, make him play in a crowd, and then fire up a ton of three pointers on offense), and the Raptors executed reasonably well--but they still lost by double digits. Antetokoumpo had an off game by his high standards--but he finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds, and eight assists, though he shot just 5-14 from the field. Khris Middleton led the Bucks in scoring with 22 points on 7-14 field goal shooting. Middleton is on pace to average more than 20 ppg while shooting at least .500 from the field, at least .400 from three point range, and at least .900 from the free throw line. The only members of the 20 ppg .500/.400/.900 club are Stephen Curry, Larry Bird (twice), Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant. Anteotokounmpo is the best player in the NBA, but it takes nothing away from his greatness to acknowledge that Middleton is an exceptional player in his own right.

Pascal Siakam topped the Raptors with 22 points, but he had a -20 plus/minus number, tied for the worst in this game. The Raptors know that they will struggle on the boards against the Bucks (Milwaukee won the rebounding battle 53-43), and they tried to compensate with long-range bombing, making 18 of their 52 three point attempts.

The 2007 Dallas Mavericks went 67-15 during the regular season before losing to Golden State 4-2 in the first round in the biggest upset in NBA playoff history. At that time, the only other NBA team to win at least 65 regular season games and not capture the championship was the 1973 Boston Celtics, who lost 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual champion New York Knicks after Hall of Famer John Havlicek suffered a shoulder injury; the Celtics won two of the next three championships.

Since 2007, the 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers (66-16, lost in the Eastern Conference Finals), the 2016 San Antonio Spurs (67-15, lost in the Western Conference semifinals), the 2016 Golden State Warriors (73-9, lost in the NBA Finals), and the 2018 Houston Rockets (65-17, lost in the Western Conference Finals) each failed to claim the title after winning at least 65 regular season games. Perhaps the failures of these recent 65-plus win teams create skepticism about the Bucks. I wonder if tanking plus decline in the overall depth of talent in the NBA has made it relatively easier for a team to win 65-plus games; other than the 2016 Warriors (who, as noted above, were in the midst of winning three titles in four seasons), none of these 65-plus win teams that failed to win a title will be much remembered or talked about 10 or 20 years from now. There is no reason to believe that any of those teams would win a seven game series against 65-plus win teams from the 1980s such as the 1983 76ers, 1986 Celtics, or 1987 Lakers.

However, there are good reasons to think that the Bucks are cut from a different cloth than the 65 win teams that fell short. Start with Antetokounmpo. He is playing at a higher overall level than the best player on any of those teams did. I saw 2009 LeBron James in person, and I have seen 2020 Antetokounmpo in person, though not as many times as I saw James, and there is no doubt in my mind that this Antetokounmpo is a better, more complete player than that James; Antetokounmpo does not quit, does not enter "chill mode," and he has been an elite defender for a while. Then, consider that the Bucks have surrounded Antemkounmpo with a well-balanced supporting cast, led by a legitimate All-Star/All-NBA caliber player in Middleton.

The main challenge for the Bucks will be to overcome defenses that load up against Antetokounmpo while packing the paint. Contrary to the oversimplified story lines provided by many media members, this is not a challenge for Antetokounmpo alone, nor is it entirely the responsibility of Coach Mike Budenholzer to make the proverbial (and overrated) "in game adjustment." There is not one magic answer to such defenses. At times, Antetokounmpo needs to shoot the face up jumper with confidence, to punish defenders who concede such shots to him. At times, Anteotkounmpo needs to quickly and decisively pass the ball to the open man--but it is that player's responsibility to position himself in a spot where he can immediately shoot, drive, or make the next pass. Poise and proper spacing are critical, because defenses that play two or three on one versus Antetokounmpo inevitably are conceding open shots elsewhere on the court. The Bucks must dictate who is taking those shots, and from where those shots are being taken.

Against Toronto last night--particularly in the second half--the Bucks deftly exploited the holes in Toronto's defense. Sometimes, Middleton cut through the paint and Antetokounmpo hit him with a pinpoint pass. Other times, Antetokounmpo gave up the ball, and his teammates responded with poised aggression.

Injuries can derail any team at any time; we saw that last season with the Warriors. It is also possible that the Lakers, Clippers, or maybe even the Celtics will prove to be better than the Bucks over the course of a seven game series.

However, the Bucks have shown and proved enough during the past year and a half that it is not ridiculous to compare them to the 65-win teams of the past. I did not expect Milwaukee to be quite this good this season--no one did--but I did pick Milwaukee to be clearly the best team in the East this season. Where are all the "experts" who said that deciding not to re-sign Malcolm Brogdon proved that the Bucks were not serious about trying to win a title? Declining to overpay Brogdon was a smart choice, and the Bucks were also smart to retain the rest of their core players.

If you have not already seen the Bucks play, make sure that you do so. Also, take note of how often media members try to goad Antetokounmpo into saying something stupid (recent attempts have related to Embiid calling himself the best player in the world, and Drake showing up at last night's game with some wrestling championship belts)--and how Antetokounmpo does not insult the media members, but also does not take the bait. Anteokounmpo is focused on improving his individual skills to help his team win games, and he does not get distracted by anything else.

So, are the Milwaukee Bucks a historically great team? That question can only be answered in the playoffs--but the Bucks are doing all of the right things to distinguish themselves from the rest of the league.

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:41 AM



At Wednesday, February 26, 2020 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's lots of ifs for every season/playoffs. All of the other things you mentioned are new things this season except the New York stuff, so naturally they'll get lots of press. MIL being on top of the East isn't new this year and being cautious about them is natural given what happened in the ECF last year. And the East finally might have caught up to the West this year. There's 4 other East teams that should MIL trouble in the playoffs, so no more cakewalks to the ECF for the #1 seed.

Take TOR last season for example, who was very fortunate to get past PHI in the 2nd round last year. There's lot of ifs for every team every season. What if TOR faced GS in the 2nd round or earlier if in the same conference rather than in the Finals when GS had several key players injured? GS would've likely have destroyed them.

At Wednesday, February 26, 2020 11:22:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Milwaukee being on pace for 70 wins is new, and only two other teams have ever won 70 games.

I am not sure how you define "trouble" or which four teams you are referencing, but I only see two East teams that could realistically threaten a healthy Milwaukee team in a seven game series: Boston and Toronto.

Regardless of how many "ifs" there are, Milwaukee is elite offensively and defensively, and is on pace to post one of the best regular season records ever. This team deserves more credit, and more attention.

At Thursday, February 27, 2020 1:09:00 AM, Anonymous Cyber said...

It's baffling how little attention the Bucks are receiving given how historically dominant they've been, I wonder if the media fears this team as they're clearly favoring the Lakers over everyone

They've blown out several great teams and have really only had 2 bad losses (vs Philadelphia and Spurs). Most of their losses either came with Giannis out or very early in the season when Giannis was in foul trouble and they were adjusting without Brogdan. Otherwise this team has proven this season and last season that they are a legit title contender

My major concern is Giannis'jumper and whether Middleton can be a reliable enough closer. Giannis to me is what Shaq could have been if he had the late Kobe Bryant's work ethic (Shaq was probably more physically gifted but at worst Giannis isn't far off) but he hasn't shown the ability to close games like Bryant did and Middleton hasn't either... He's not even close to Bryant but he's the closest they have to a closer and I just don't trust him enough. You've probably seen more of him this year than I have so I'd like to know if you have a similar impression regarding Giannis/Middleton as closers

With that said I hope Giannis continues working on his jumper and his post game which from what I've seen he has. Toronto dared him to shoot and he did, made some midrange shots and it was a corner 3 that clinched it, but I'd like to see him do this in the playoffs. Like you I believe he's a pantheon caliber player, I'm pulling for him because his approach is so refreshing as someone not big on this AAU era. Him and Zion both seem have to have a personality that's very akin to the stars of previous decades which I love.

Great article as always!

At Thursday, February 27, 2020 1:44:00 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

As someone who's never seen 2009 LeBron in person, but definitely seen a bunch of his full games live on television, I am shocked to say you already place 2020 Giannis ahead of LBJ. Granted, I haven't seen much of these Bucks play (lack of access in watching games live this year), so therein lies my shock. It makes me question myself to watch more of how these Bucks are playing.

To address your first point in the post, I think the Bucks aren't getting as much attention/respect from national media primarily because of where they are playing in Milwaukee, a relatively smaller market team/city. If Giannis or the Bucks were based in either New York or Los Angeles, we'd see nonstop coverage of them.

I think the 2020 Finals will be between Lakers and Bucks, with Giannis cementing his place in the history books by winning his first title over the reigning "King" of the league. It's only fitting; Giannis has more of that "dog" and old-school "killer mentality" that Kobe had. The only way I see the Lakers winning is if LeBron plays transcendently for the full duration of the playoffs with no breaks and none of that "chill mode" garbage that he exhibits here and there.

Based on what you stated, do you also think these Bucks will win it all this year if you had to bet?

At Thursday, February 27, 2020 5:00:00 PM, Blogger Tristan said...

The Bucks should win the championship this year, barring any major injury. Their top rankings in offense and defense reflect the unselfishness and commitment of the Bucks to themselves and Coach Budenholzer, and starts with the intensity and versatility of the game's most dominating force and MVP.

I'm missing out by not watching more Bucks games. Giannis is the most impressive physical talent in a long while, and the greatest Milwaukee player since Kareem. Learning about the Bucks' championship heyday in the early 70s, this current squad resembles the Kareem and Oscar-led team in their understated and business-like domination.

There have been 20 single-season teams that won at least 65 games (starting with the 1967 Sixers, up to the 2018 Rockets) with 70 percent winning the whole thing that year. Five out of the six that did not win the title or advance to the Finals played within the last decade-plus (starting with the 2007 Mavericks). I think that if the given 65-win team has been great enough during the year (again, notwithstanding injuries), then it should have still been great enough--from the best player down to their coach's system--to make the NBA Finals and/or win the whole thing.

At Thursday, February 27, 2020 6:52:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree that the main, if not only, question about the Bucks is their ability to win close games down the stretch in the playoffs. Opposing teams will shrink the floor and crowd Giannis, forcing him to give up the ball, but the Bucks should be able to effectively counter by having three players space the floor while one player cuts to the hoop; if done correctly and crisply, this will lead to an open shot every time. In recent games, I have seen the Bucks do this effectively, but they have to prove that they can do it over the course of a seven game series against elite competition. Middleton should have a field day on the weak side if Giannis is trapped, and in those situations I have seen Middleton cut aggressively to the hoop to receive passes from Giannis for layups. I think that the Bucks are better prepared for this kind of defense than they were during last year's playoffs versus Toronto.

I agree with you that I like Giannis' approach to the game. He seems to be an old school superstar.

At Thursday, February 27, 2020 7:07:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Just to be clear, I don't rank Giannis ahead of peak LeBron, but I rank Giannis ahead of LeBron when LeBron was also a one-time regular season MVP with no championships. I think that Giannis can surpass LeBron overall, but Giannis must do that in the postseason.

I am not sure yet who I would pick to win the title. Milwaukee looks like the best team, but the Bucks are playing all out every night (as they should) while the Clippers are load-managing, and the Lakers do not always seem to play hard. I would like to think that the team that always plays hard will prevail in the end, but if LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy and motivated during the playoffs they will obviously be a tough out. My suspicion is something will go wrong with the Lakers--either Davis will get hurt, or LeBron will have one of his mystifying disappearing acts.

The Clippers are very difficult to assess because we have not seen them at full strength very often. Kawhi Leonard has proven on multiple occasions that he is the dynasty killer: he has killed the Cavs, the Warriors, and even the Spurs (by leaving).

I am leaning toward Milwaukee now, but reserve the right to change my opinion when I make my "official" predictions in my playoff preview articles.

At Thursday, February 27, 2020 7:15:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, clearly the Bucks are the favorite based on their tremendous regular season production at both ends of the court. The question, as noted in my previous comment, is whether the Bucks can sustain this level of play in the postseason. Another question is whether teams like the Lakers and Clippers have a higher level of play that they can reach that they have not shown on a consistent basis during the regular season.

I think that the relatively recent proliferation of 65-plus win teams that did not win a championship has something to do with the realities of the modern NBA: tanking has become fairly prevalent (in a variety of forms), so the league is divided into haves and have nots, which means that the haves can stack up wins more easily than teams could in the past. Also, even some of the haves "tank" in the sense that they load manage their way to some losses. Combine those two factors, and you could get some 65 win teams that are perhaps not the best team in the league in a given season; I am not sure that any of those recent 65-win teams stack up to the 65-win teams from previous eras.

There is also the obvious point that in a season during which the above factors enable more than one team to win 65 games at least one of those teams will fail to win the title.

At Friday, February 28, 2020 1:47:00 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

On the topic of the greatest teams of all-time, I don't know what to make of the 2015 and 2016 Warriors. They certainly hold a special place in history with a 67-15 championship season followed by a 73-9 season where they were a possession away from being repeat champions but they were also legitimately flawed. They trailed 1-2 to an inferior Memphis team in the 2015 WCSF, they were down 1-2 to an injury-depleted Cavs team in the 2015 Finals and they were getting bludgeoned to death by OKC in the 2016 WCFs as they fell behind 1-3. I know that the Warriors ultimately won all of those series but I don't think that a candidate for "greatest team ever" should be regularly trailing in series and they certainly shouldn't be coughing up 3-1 Finals leads while losing Game 7 at home.

I honestly don't think the 73-9 Warriors are even the greatest team ever to lose in the Finals. I would be reluctant to take them over the West-Chamberlain-Baylor Lakers that lost in the Finals or any of the Lakers/Celtics teams that lost in the 1980s. Even with Durant, the Warriors were vulnerable when attacked in the paint and before his arrival they had players such as Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson causing serious problems for them. I can't even imagine how they would deal with Wilt, Kareem, Robert Parrish or Kevin McHale in a hypothetical series.

At Friday, February 28, 2020 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


I been commenting on here for years and seen teams come and go.

The bucks is a great reg season team but will not win title over clips or lakers and prob cant beat celtics.

1. U depending on khris middleton as ur second best player to win a title? Khris middleton a decent player but not good enough 2 option to win a championship wit. Klay/ steph wade irving gasol siakim been 2 options who won titles recently

2. Reg season isnt playoffs. In playoffs especially in east finals and. Nba finals u play the top 3 best teans in nba who can focous on u and expose ur weakness. This happened to milwaukee last year and will happen again this year.

3. Giannis is barely better than a 35 year old lebron, he couldnt wear his jock strap in bron prime and wasnt better than a 2009 bron. Giannis is easier to guard than bron cause bron a way better shooter than giannis who will get exposed in playoff for lack of shooting.

I see boston beating milwaukee. Jayson tatum got footwork like the great kobe bryant and boston is well coached and got a all around team that can beat mil

I dont see milwaukee winning title. I can be wrong but i doubt it

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 2:41:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You make some good points. While the Warriors deserve credit for what they accomplished in their era--after all, they could only play against current teams, not against teams from the past--I agree that it is legitimate to seriously question how the Warriors would have fared against the best teams from previous eras. As you suggest, even some of the teams that lost in the Finals in more competitive eras may very well have been able to beat the Warriors in a seven game series.

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 3:02:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I don't understand your comment. On the one hand, you assert that Giannis is "barely better" than LeBron now, and that Middleton is not a top flight number two option. I will assume that you rank Anthony Davis as at least a top 10, if not top 5, current player. If you are right about the above, then why does Milwaukee have a better record than the Lakers?

Middleton is averaging 21.1 ppg with shooting splits of .508/.438/.907. He is a solid rebounder, passer, and defender. He is playing at an All-NBA level, and he is playing well enough to be the second best player on a championship team.

I agree that some teams that do well in the regular season get exposed in the playoffs; this happens every year with James Harden's Rockets.

What Milwaukee weakness is going to be exposed in the playoffs? The Bucks are elite on both offense and defense. Maybe crunch time offense will be a problem. That remains to be seen. If the Lakers or Clippers are at their best I could see them beating the Bucks. I have a hard time picturing Boston beating Milwaukee four times in seven games. Tatum is a rising star, and the Celtics are well-coached, but overall the Bucks are the superior team.

I compared Giannis to 2009 LeBron because they are comparable in age and NBA experience. LeBron won his first regular season MVP in 2009, just like Giannis won his first regular season MVP last season. Peak LeBron showed that he could win a title when paired with at least one future HoFer, but 2009 LeBron lost in the ECF despite Cleveland winning a league-best 66 games (and then LeBron quit in the playoffs the next year as his Cavs lost to Boston). Comparing 2009 LeBron to 2020 Giannis from a skill set standpoint, we find that Giannis is bigger, just as fast, nearly as strong, a much better scorer in the paint, a much better rebounder, a comparable playmaker (5.8 apg in less than 31 mpg compared to 7.2 apg in nearly 38 mpg), a comparable three point shooter (.314 compared to .344), and a worse free throw shooter (oddly, Giannis is shooting a career-low from the free throw line this season, while LeBron shot a career-high in 2009; both numbers appear to be aberrations, as their career free throw percentages are virtually identical).

In terms of intangibles, Giannis plays hard all of the time, and is not trying to serve as the GM and the coach. He is a much more mature leader than LeBron was in 2009. LeBron was already an MVP caliber player in 2009, but 2020 Giannis is even better than LeBron was at that time (but not yet better than LeBron became a few years later).

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 10:53:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


What team won a title with a khris middleton as they second best player? He only a all star cause the east lacks talent. Kyle lowry and demarr derozan are 5 time all stars in east but wouldnt make one in west cause of curry klay lillard Westbrook paul etc and much more talent in west.

When has lebron not played hard? He had mental toughness challenges in 2010 and 2011 in playoffs but other than that he has always played hard.

Giannis is no lebron in 2009 or in his prime. Giannis cant shoot or pass near lebron level. In playoffs by elite teams he easier to guard cause of his lack of playmaking and shooting.

Milwaukee reminds me of those 08 and 09 cavs teams. Won a bunch of reg season games but in playoffs vs the very best they will get exposed especially middleton cause u need 2 superstars to win titles and teams that are good take what u do good away.

They wont be as deep in playoffs and those role players will shrink. Lakers and clippers dont play as hard in reg season but will in playoffs and will beat milwaukee.

Idk if milwaukee can beat boston really. Tatum been a beast and brad stevens a great coach.

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 12:23:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Research how many players in pro basketball history have averaged at least 21 ppg with .500./.400/.900 shooting splits and you can answer your question about Middleton. Keep in mind that he also averages 6 rpg and 4 apg while playing solid defense.

Yeah, LeBron "always plays hard"--except for two playoff runs during the prime of his career when his team could have won championships! He had other times he didn't play hard, but you answered your own question.

Go back and look at LeBron's playoff shooting percentages and turnover rates versus the Spurs, Celtics and other elite playoff teams in the 2007-2011 time frame before you talk too much about a player whose lack of an outside shot makes him easier to guard.

A superstar's ability to win a title will always be questioned until he does it. LeBron did it (but not until much later in his career), and Giannis has not done it--yet.

I know that Milwaukee can beat Boston in the playoffs because the Bucks beat the Celtics 4-1 in last year's playoffs. Two years ago, the second seeded Celtics needed seven games to beat the seventh seeded Bucks. The trend here is not moving in your direction: the Bucks have improved in the past two years, while the Celtics--at best--have stayed at the same level.

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 2:08:00 PM, Anonymous Cyber said...

For what it's worth Middleton is averaging his production in just under 30 minutes per game, his per 36 averages are 25/8/5. Obviously there are flaws with extrapolating data but he's a better "2nd best player" than he gets credit for, I do think playing with Giannis, being coached by Bud, and playing in a very perimeter friendly era inflates his per minute production but 21/6/4 on 50/40/90 in under 30 mpg (while being versatile on both ends) is definitely AS caliber. In the 6 games without Giannis (5 - 1 without him, although most were against bad squads) he has averaged 27.3 although his 51 point game inflates that as he's hovered in the mid 20s for most of the remaining 5 games. Even excluding his 51 piece that's still above his 21.1 thus far.

I'm going to wait and see before I put 2020 Giannis over 2009 or 2010 LeBron but I am also leaning towards that direction. My take is that LeBron's offense was more refined but Giannis is probably more physically gifted (not as athletic but taller/longer, maybe even stronger) so having a more complete skillset isn't as important for him anyway. Size matters and what Giannis lacks in "skill" (which people underrate anyway) he makes up for in tenacity. Hustle is definitely a skill hiring managers are looking for and Giannis is as good as it gets when it comes to it, he's far more than just a 7 footer who dunks. He's also a better defender, I value individual offense a little more than individual defense (at least for perimeter players) but the gap in defense is probably bigger than the gap on offense, and Giannis is still at least a full tier above late 2000s LeBron mentally.

It's not a slight on LeBron, I don't think anyone is taking Giannis over 2012 or 2013 LeBron (not yet at least) but Giannis is definitely playing well enough to merit whether he's at least on late 2000s LeBron level, not to mention how eerily similar their age 23-25 seasons have been as far as production and team success goes.

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 3:00:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Middleton has improved a lot, but I suspect that many people have not watched the Bucks that often and thus they picture Middleton as he was before, not as he is now.

The 2020 Giannis-2009 LeBron comparison is close, but I prefer Giannis. Later, LeBron reached a level that Giannis has not reached yet.

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 10:29:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


David u and cyber look at numbers not eye test

Middleton putting up inflated numbers but he is not a star. U need two starts to win a ring. He a good player but not good enough to be a second banana

Lebron james is the undisputed 2nd greatest player of all time. Giannis doesnt have skill set to compare to bron and he a easier guard in a playoff series because of his lack shooting post and midrange game plus playmaking as well.

Boston better this year than last because of kemba but mainly jayson tatum all nba 1st team play recently so last year irrelavent.

If milwaukee wins title ill eat crow but they have a baltimore Ravens feel to them. while the Lakers have a more chiefs feel to them meaning they will peak in playoffs

At Saturday, February 29, 2020 11:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I appreciate comedy, and that comment is good for a laugh.

You have been reading my articles for years, and you know that I am the last person on Earth who could truthfully be accused of valuing numbers over the eye test when evaluating basketball players.

Please do explain how Middleton's numbers are "inflated."

Count me among those who dispute that LeBron is the second greatest player of all-time. For one thing, he has yet to pass Kobe Bryant among his contemporaries. For another thing, Jordan is better than Kobe and LeBron.

What skill did 2009 LeBron have that 2020 Giannis does not have?

I hope that you understand the critical difference between asserting an opinion and proving a case. Also, repeating the same thing over and over does not make it any more convincing than it was the first time that you stated it.

Didn't you used to say that LeBron was going to win more titles than MJ?

In case you did not notice, Milwaukee is a lot better this year than last year, so even if Boston has improved (and I am not sure that Boston has) that does not mean that the Celtics have closed the gap between the two teams.

At Sunday, March 01, 2020 9:04:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


Ur argument for middleton stats and everyone stats are inflated based on current era. My point been he not a 2 option on any previous championship team. Not warriors toronto Cleveland spurs or lakers. U need a legit number 2 next to giannis to beat lakers or clips or elite teams he is not good enough. And 50 people avg 20 points in nba so that stat meh.

Lebron been all nba 1st team level 15 years straight there no dispute with his accomplishments and career he is the second greatest player ever many publication and expert agree wit me as well.

Boston looks like a team that translates more in post season. Milwaukee is more of a reg season team to me. Boston is also a great defensive and offensive team but is better coached and has more playmakers.

Milwaukee a great reg season team that i believe will not translate in playoffs because giannis is by him self and a team can build a d that can slow him down.

At Sunday, March 01, 2020 11:41:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Reread what I wrote. I described Middleton's skill set, not just his stats.

If you are right that "everyone's stats are inflated," then that would not affect the relative ratings. Stat inflation only would affect Middleton if his stats are more inflated than the stats of other players.

There are not 50 players averaging 20 ppg, and the number of players who averaged at least 20 ppg with .500/.400/.900 shooting splits is very small. Look it up. You may be surprised about the company Middleton is keeping in that regard.

I don't care who agrees with you about LeBron James. He is not the "undisputed" second greatest player of all-time; there are many people who would dispute that, and for good reason.

If you look back at championship teams, they usually have the best individual player. Who does Boston have who can come close to matching up with Giannis?

The Lakers have an older LeBron, and the Clippers have prime Kawhi, but no other team has someone who can match up with Giannis.


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