MILWAUKEE — Through 43 games, no Milwaukee Bucks team has ever accomplished what this season’s squad has been able to do.
Even with the early success, Bucks general manager Jon Horst insists this squad isn’t chasing victories.
The wins are the result of good habits being developed that the team hopes will carry over to when it matters most.
“We’re not chasing wins. I do think that playoff seeding matters,” Horst told Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on this week’s episode of his SiriusXM show, “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.”
“I think our seeding matters and we want to be intentional and careful about how we end up seedingwise, but we’re not chasing total wins,” he said.
“What we’re chasing is we want to be an NBA champion. We want to be better than we were last year. Last year we fell short of the Finals, this year we want to get to the Finals. We want to get there healthy. We want to be playing well. As I think you would tell anyone, that if you’re healthy, if you’re good enough and you catch enough breaks along the way you can win it. And that’s where we want to be positioned to hope to be able to do.”
Even at this pace, the Bucks are unlikely to match the NBA’s regular-season record for wins, set by the Golden State Warriors in 2015-16, when they went 73-9.
One of the biggest improvements for the Bucks since their 60-win season of 2018-19 is the uptick in superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s 3-point shooting. Entering Thursday, the reigning MVP had knocked down a career-best 66 triples at 33.2%, which was more than the 52 he hit last season in 72 total games at 25.6%.
During his conversation with Krzyzewski, Horst credited Antetokounmpo’s development to Mike Budenholzer‘s coaching philosophy and his overall work ethic to accept the challenge.
“We truly believe that every player can develop and develop in our system to fit our system and become better players within the way that we play, whether they’re 30 years old or 25 years old. And, you know, I think the biggest example of that for Giannis this year is you’ve got a guy who is already halfway through the season, made more 3-pointers this year than he made last year,” Horst told Krzyzewski.
“He’s shooting at a near-league-average percentage, he’s almost at 33%. And I think people have been saying the last two or three years, if Giannis could ever make a 3-point shot, it’ll be over. Well, he’s making a 3-point shot and it’s over. Last year he was the MVP and in every metric that earned him the MVP last year, he’s better this year. Across the board he’s better statistically this year, again doing it in less minutes.”