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Giannis Antetokounmpo. Photo: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks are in the midst of one of the best regular seasons in NBA history.

Why it matters: The Bucks have a per-game average point differential of +12.4, which is higher than any team's full-season rate in NBA history.

  • 45-7 record: Milwaukee is a league-best 45-7 and on pace to win 71 games, something only two teams have ever done: the 1995-96 Bulls (72-10) and the 2015-16 Warriors (73-9).
  • Efficiency: Milwaukee ranks No. 2 in the league in offensive efficiency (behind Dallas) and No. 1 in defensive efficiency (ahead of Toronto).

Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 30 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, "ridiculous numbers that shouldn't be humanly possible in just 30.9 minutes per game," writes NYT's Marc Stein.

  • Wild stat: Houston's James Harden is scoring a mind-boggling 35.2 points per game, but Antetokounmpo (34.9) actually ranks ahead of him (34.2) in scoring per 36 minutes — a more accurate measure of scoring volume.
  • MVP race, per NBA.com: 1. Antetokounmpo ... huge gap ... 2. LeBron James, 3. Kawhi Leonard, 4. Jimmy Butler, 5. Nikola Jokić, 6. Luka Dončić, 7. Damian Lillard, 8. Anthony Davis, 9. Jayson Tatum, 10. Russell Westbrook.

The Bucks' rotation is two-deep at every position and just got even deeper with the addition of veteran Marvin Williams, who was signed yesterday after agreeing to a buyout with the Hornets.

  • PG: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill
  • SG: Wesley Matthew, Donte DiVincenzo, Kyle Korver
  • SF: Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton, Sterling Brown
  • PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan İlyasova, Marvin Williams
  • C: Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez

And yet ... despite chasing history, the Bucks have received relatively little national attention thanks in large part to being the fourth-smallest market in the NBA, ahead of only OKC, New Orleans and Memphis.

  • This is a reminder that, while small-market superstars like Antetokounmpo are often covered like big-market superstars if they're good enough, small-market teams are almost never covered like big-market teams — even if they're on pace to have the third-best regular season ever.

Go deeper: NBA standings

Go deeper

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
6 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

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8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.