Feb 10, 2020 - Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks' historic season

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

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Post-up rates are way down in the NBA

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers is defended by Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena on February 03, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Michael Reaves / Contributor/Getty Images

NBA teams have been steadily abandoning the back-to-the-basket game for years thanks to the three-point explosion and the corresponding rise of stretch fours (and stretch fives). But this season, post-ups are bordering on extinction.

By the numbers: In 2005, 22 teams finished at least 10% of their possessions with a post-up, and zero teams had a post-up rate below 5%.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - Sports

MLB considers expanding playoffs to 14 teams

On Oct. 30, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer celebrates after beating the Houston Astros in the World Series. Photo: David J. Phillip/AP

Major League Baseball is considering expanding the postseason to nearly half the 30 teams and allowing higher-seeded wild-card teams to choose opponents, the AP reports.

The state of play: The playoffs would grow from 10 clubs to 14, with four wild cards in each league, up from two. The selections would be made on a televised show.

Go deeperArrowFeb 11, 2020 - Sports

The average NBA team is now worth $2.1 billion

Reproduced from Forbes; Chart: Axios Visuals

The average NBA franchise is now valued at $2.12 billion, per Forbes — a figure that has grown 476% in the past decade.

Why it matters: Thanks to the NBA's international growth and the $24 billion TV deal it signed with ESPN and Turner in 2014, team values have grown at a much faster rate than the other three major U.S. sports leagues.

Go deeperArrowFeb 12, 2020 - Sports