Throughout the month of May, we'll spotlight players and teams that were in the midst of making history before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Whenever the games do return, the focus will shift back to the on-court action. "Remember when..." is a series meant to resurface the stories that were set to dominate the NBA landscape.
You don't have to stretch too far back into your memory to recall when the Milwaukee Bucks were having one of the greatest regular seasons of all time.
That's right. ALL-TIME.
Led by an utterly dominant (and almost certain) MVP season from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks masterfully partnered an overwhelming offense with one of the best defenses in league history and turned it into one of the most exceptional regular seasons we've ever seen.
When the season froze on March 11, Milwaukee sat at 53-12, a .815 win percentage that puts them on pace for just shy of 67 wins. While not quite reaching that magical 70 win threshold, 67-15 is a remarkable season that we've become numb to in recent years.
Just in the past five years, the Spurs won 67 games once and the Warriors won at least 67 in three straight seasons. Before that stretch, however, only nine teams in NBA history finished with at least 67 wins. 67-15 has become almost mundane at this point, but over the course of NBA history, it has been a truly historic feat that can't be dismissed.
The Bucks didn't just stumble into of the 15th-best win percentage of all-time, they were dominant all season long. Their league-leading +10.7 net rating is the eighth-highest ever. Their +11.29 margin-of-victory is the fifth-best. They were wiping the floor with teams night-in and night-out, winning by double-digits more than half the time they stepped on the court this season.
Milwaukee's team-wide dominance is evidence alone for this season to be historic, but Antetokounmpo's individual brilliance carries an extra level of significance.
Compared to his MVP season a year ago, Antetokounmpo is scoring more, rebounding better and shooting more efficiently, all while playing two fewer minutes per game. His 30.9 minutes per game will be the fewest of any MVP season ever and yet he is still the first player in over 50 years to average 29 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists per game.
MORE: One way Giannis is better than LeBron has ever been
Of the 81 seasons in which a player averaged at least 29.6 points per game in NBA history, Antetokounmpo's 58.3 eFG% is the second-most efficient, trailing only Steph Curry's unanimous MVP season in 2015-16. Antetokounmpo has added efficiency to his already overwhelming physical brutality and the results have been nearly unstoppable.
Antetokounmpo has to be the headline but the perpetually overlooked Khris Middleton deserves far more credit than he receives for Milwaukee's offense.
If you're one to scoff at the notion of Middleton as a legitimate star, you better sit down for this next one: He has quietly developed into one of the most efficient high-volume scorers the NBA has ever seen. That's not hyperbole either.
Middleton was a single missed field goal away from having his first 50-40-90 season (50% overall, 40% from 3 and 90% from the free throw line) and joining four top-20 players of all-time as the only ones to do so in a season in which they averaged over 20 points per game.
Middleton is a preeminent scorer in this league and he's earned the right to be seen as the second-best player on one of the greatest regular-season teams ever. Of course... we're not done yet. Not with these Bucks. Because that offence - not even the calling card of this squad - goes well beyond their two stars.
While Middleton and Antetokounmpo combine to score nearly 43 percent of Milwaukee's points, that other 57 percent comes from all over the roster.
Eight Bucks average at least one made three per game and every player with 100+ minutes averages at least one three-point attempt. An Antetokounmpo drive is terrifying on its own, but the shooting depth on the roster means that a late rotation or help from the wrong spot will inevitably result in an open three for Kyle Korver, Wes Matthews, Eric Bledsoe or - the out-of-nowhere best shooter in the league - George Hill.
With all that said, as good as the Bucks are offensively - and they are the 73rd-best offense in the history of basketball - their 112.6 offensive rating is also just seventh in the league this season. They transcended from a merely good team to a dominant one on the defensive end.
When taking stock of Milwaukee's prospects as an all-time defensive team, its imperative to do it within the context of this era. Partially because teams shoot more 3s and partially because of the rules which favour scoring, this year's league average offensive rating of 110.4 is the highest of any season in NBA history.
Milwaukee's defensive rating of 8.5 points per 100 poessions lower than league average is the third-best since the NBA-ABA merger trailing only the 2008-09 Celtics and 2003-04 Spurs. In a year where Dallas is simultaneously the top-rated offense of all time and seventh in their own conference, Milwaukee's 101.6 DRtg - which would have been league-average just a couple decades ago - is historic by comparison.
The Bucks didn't stop these three-heavy offenses in the way you might expect, however. Milwaukee allowed teams to succumb to their three-heavy tendencies - allowing the fourth-most three-point attempts - but forced them into less desirable looks from deep. The Bucks do a great job defending the corners and closing out on spot-up shooters while encouraging deeper shots above-the-break and daring guards to settle for pull-up threes.
Opponents fall into this trap because of the terrifying alternative of driving into the interior of Milwaukee's defense. Led by Brook Lopez, the Bucks held opponents to a league-best 54.9 percent in the restricted area and 36.1 percent in non-RA paint shots. Antetokounmpo may be the defensive star, but it's Lopez and his career-high 2.4 blocks per game that allows him to fly all over the floor and create havoc.
MORE: Why Brook Lopez should win Defensive Player of the Year
Decades from now when you remember this Bucks team, Antetokounmpo and one of his jaw-dropping athletic feats will be the first thing that comes to mind. He is what elevates this from a great season to a legendary one, but one-man shows don't translate to 67-win seasons.
As is true with every great campaign, there will be room for debate around this Bucks season forever. What isn't debatable, regardless of extenuating circumstances, is that this team was dominant enough all year long to belong in the pantheon of greatest regular seasons of all-time.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.