The first to 30 wins is an impressive mark for the Milwaukee Bucks, but as their all-world MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has opined: "We can always do better, and we've got to keep improving."
While such words are not the typical talking points of a team that has gone 30-5 over the first 40% of the season, the grind is typical of Giannis, who in seven seasons in the NBA has only ever focused on getting better. Coming into the league as an unheralded development prospect in 2013, Giannis has never stopped grinding and was rewarded for his efforts this past summer with the NBA's MVP award.
Now, in his follow up to that magnificent performance, which came to a heartbreaking end in Toronto last May, Giannis is, if anything even better than he was last year, and is already a favorite to take the MVP award home again this season.
Yet, as he says that is not enough.
It has been 48 years since the city of Milwaukee has laid claim to an NBA championship, 45 years since they've even gotten to the big dance. And last year they were a mere seven points and a game away from doing it again.
So, as the mood and imaginary in Milwaukee goes, another Giannis MVP or even the no. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs (which looks like a good possibility given that the next closest team, the Celtics, are 5.5 games back of the Bucks) would be a wonderful feather in the Dairyland cap and vindication of every decision that the team has made over the last three to five years. But that's all it would be really: a feather to preen, pick at, and feel depressed about.
It's a championship that the Bucks want, and perhaps Giannis more than anyone else.
Of course, even if the Bucks do get to the 2020 Finals, which they've put themselves in a wonderful position to do as they lead the Eastern Conference, they'll still have to vanquish a Western foe. And, if he can at all capture the magic that sent him on a magical run last season, there may be a familiar face on the other side of that court.
That's right. The Kawhi Leonard-led LA Clippers are 23-11 and making noise all their own. Part of that noise does in fact stem from the Clippers' aggressive use of "load management" or the strategic resting of star players throughout the season (Kawhi and Paul George mostly) but also the fact that they've immediately made an impact on their conference, after losing in the first round last year.
While I doubt Kawhi Leonard, a now two-time NBA champion, hungers for a triumph there in the same way that Giannis does, his presence in the West and the distinct possibility that he could end up opposing Giannis yet again in his quest for that victory is a narrative almost too juicy to even contemplate.
Yet, that matchup, should it come to pass, is for another day. Now, as Milwaukee ushers in a new decade, the Bucks become the first team to reach 30 wins in December since the 1980-81 season. A testament to their power, no one is doubting their ability. But can they really do even better? Time will tell.