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PODCAST: The Bucks starters are an unlikely offensive juggernaut...and abject disaster on defense

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Thirty games into a disappointing 12-18 campaign, the Milwaukee Bucks' young starting lineup has boasted some curious statistics. In 126 minutes together, the spacing-challenged combination of Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe have now scored a whopping 114 points per 100 possessions, which is phenomenal. To put that in perspective, the Golden State Warriors score "just" 113 points per 100 possessions.

While attempting a paltry 9.3 threes per 48 minutes, the starters have hit 50% of their threes (essentially Middleton on his own) and nearly 55% from the field overall while scoring an insane 69.2 points/48 minutes in the paint. More perspective: the Kings lead the league with a mere 48 points in the paint per game. So much for modern basketball, eh?

Weirder yet is that Jason Kidd himself suggested only a couple weeks ago that the lineup didn't work.

An all-arms lineup of Carter-Williams, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Parker, and Greg Monroe sounds great, but it features only one reliable 3-point shooter. Can you play that lineup today?

"As of right now, no," Bucks coach Jason Kidd tells in response to that question. "On paper, you say, 'Wow, that's a long lineup.' But who is gonna shoot?"

The unfortunate worm in the apple is that a) none of this offensive brilliance feels sustainable despite the fact that the Bucks have been even better in December (121 points/100 in 48 total minutes) and b) that group has also been utterly destroyed on the defensive end, to the tune of around 116 points/100 overall. In other words, as much as the Bucks starting five has scored freely, they've also allowed opponents to do even more damage on the other end. You'd expect to see plenty of mean reversion from both sides going forward, but for now it makes for a counterintuitive curiosity.

Building on our podcast from Wednesday, our latest discussion touches on whether the Bucks' "playmaking" development plan for Giannis Antetokounmpo makes sense and whether the current lineup makes sense in the long term. Note: we recorded this on Sunday night, so the stats we quoted (110 points for and 119 against per 100 possessions) had not yet factored in the Bucks' win over the Sixers on Wednesday.

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