The Bucks Make Good Passes Instead Of A Lot Of Passes
The no-look look from Giannis was more about function than flash although it was about both. He did it for effect only in the sense that the effect was to score.
The most correct pass just happened to be the prettiest pass (if you had it in you to do it). As it was again a few minutes later when Giannis gave another no-look to Lopez.
The Bucks actually rank in the bottom third of the league in passes per game. But that is just a reflection of them passing with purpose rather than for the sake of it. After all: They rank third in the league in assists despite ranking 24th in passes. Which leads to…
Assist To Pass Percentage — 2019/20
1. Bucks — 9.4
2. Suns — 9.1
3. Lakers — 9.1
4. Grizzlies — 9.0
5. Rockets — 9.0
Passing — good passing — is not easy to sum up in stats. That chart above is not intended to be a list of the best passing teams in the league. It adds up though, that the Bucks lead the league in making the most of their passes. They wouldn’t be the fastest-pace team in the league (or making a run at being the fastest in league history) if they didn’t get right to it on offense. The beauty of their offense — second-best in the NBA — is that they find the highest-efficiency shot, and do so as quickly as possible.
Against the Suns on Sunday, it wasn’t all no-look artistry (although Giannis had a couple other no-looks). Sometimes it was as simple as a screen and a give-and-go.
Just about all the best passes against the Suns, and all season, have been delivered almost immediately upon receiving the ball. The outlet-pass-to-touch-pass-to-at-the-basket-finish has been a yearlong trademark of the Bucks, with Middleton in particular touching a few just like this:
Some of the more memorable passing sequences didn’t even end up resulting in assists or points, like how the first half ended.
Like most of the best passing teams, the Bucks are not conservative in going for it. They rank middle-of-the-pack in turnovers, they will take calculated risks for easy baskets, and they are plenty aware and good enough to pull it off. And like all the best passing teams, just as important as the delivery of the pass is the movement off the ball.
When a team is still on pace to win 70 games all the way in to February, you have to wonder what exactly they are doing that has them on a level with only two other teams in history (beyond the obvious, like having an all-time great player, multiple other All-Star level guys, and a league-best defense). For one, they move and share with a rhythmic, almost tangible connectivity.
I thought about writing this story after the Bucks went to Paris, but it was no rush, because they are like this almost every game. To compare the fluidity and unselfishness and beauty and team-oriented nature of the Bucks to the best soccer teams in Europe (and to the defending World Cup champs right there in France) was too obvious. There was a moment in that game when DiVincenzo made an ooh-inspiring steal-and-save, and Giannis went the other way in transition and the crowd grew expectant, and some rose, ready for something special and… they got something that was perfectly routine and perfect. They got an understated look at what makes Giannis Giannis and what makes the Bucks the Bucks.