There are two broad philosophies for which people have come to understand what the Milwaukee Bucks are doing with their franchise. The first is that their number one priority is the development of third-year player Giannis Antetokounmpo from raw athlete into one of the NBA’s best players. The other is that they are at the forefront of something of a ‘Length Revolution,’ in which they grab and stash tall players that can play multiple positions.

Neither concept is necessarily untrue, but if you take a closer look at what the Bucks have in front of them, their plans seem to be a little more specific.

As rapidly as Antetokounmpo has been developing skills and compiling statistics, the Bucks don’t need him to become LeBron James or Kevin Durant. And as much positional experimenting that they do with him, it isn’t actually as abstract as making him do everything so that he can evolve into a super player.

Whether it’s this season or next, eventually Khris Middleton will return from hamstring surgery, and Jabari Parker will be even more comfortable with his strengths as an NBA player. The things that the Bucks are currently doing with the Greek Freak are to develop him into a perfect complement to those two teammates. If it works, the three of them might just take over the NBA.

Whatever else the Bucks do with their roster, they can already embrace the advantages of length and versatility better than any other team simply by starting Antetokounmpo (6’11), Parker (6’8), and Middleton (6’8). They’re not just tall, they’re athletic. And they’re not just athletic, they’re skilled. But most importantly, while they’re skills partially coincide, they aren’t redundant. 

Every team would love to have one Kevin Durant. The Bucks are banking on three different versions of Durant’s strengths all playing together. Middleton, assuming he returns at full health, is one of the league’s most underrated offensive players. He’s one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, and he can put the ball on the floor and drive. Parker is beginning to showcase the offensive skillset people projected for him out of college. Through eight games this season he’s averaged 19.5 points per game. He’s a face-up power forward who uses his attacks at the rim to open up his jump shot. Parker can score on just about anyone less athletic than him—and to clarify, there aren’t many players at his position as athletic as him. 

Both Middleton and Parker use their length to complement their best offensive strengths (shooting for Middleton and post scoring for Parker). But one very simple platitude remains in basketball: The best way to utilize length and athleticism is through the pick-and-roll. So if you’re wondering why the Bucks have been playing Antetokounmpo at point guard, the answer is probably because that’s the missing link.

Imagine having two 6’8 players, who can both shoot and utilize mismatches in the paint to play in the pick-and-roll and adding a 6’11 ball handler who can come off a high pick and essentially get to the basket in one stride. Antetokounmpo’s time bringing up the ball now might not mean he settles into a full-time point guard role. It might just be grooming for what will become the Bucks’ signature weapon.

It might seem like a fool’s errand to apply specific projections to still-developing young players (Parker is 21, Antetokounmpo is 22 and Middleton is 25), but they are rapidly growing into their potential. There has probably never been a player in the NBA with as much athleticism as Antetokounmpo who has developed as quickly as him. (To be fair, the only reason LeBron James isn’t in that conversation is because he came into the league much more polished than Antetokounmpo). Those three players could combine to average 60 points per game as early as next season.

If they continue to improve at the same pace, the Bucks will have plenty of options on offense and will be prepared to go forward with the defensive versatility that prevents them from getting outmatched by any style of play. They can chase around a team like Golden State at the three-point line, and even if strong low-post players can push them around on the block, those types of players are becoming scarce in the NBA, and the Bucks have the length to provide help defense at the rim. Zach Randolph, for example, can bully any one of them in the post, but trying to get a clean shot off against their rotating defense would be like trying to throw a football out of a forest. 

The length of players like Thon Maker and John Henson (both long players around 7’0) isn’t inconsequential, but who surrounds the trio of Middleton/Antetokounmpo/Parker can differ on a situational basis. Having the three of them on the floor enables Milwaukee to play small or big. Perhaps Maker could develop into a Willie Cauley-Stein-type rim protector and running big man. Role players like Matthew Dellavedova with specific skill sets aren’t hard to find and can be plugged in easily when you start three players with positional versatility. 

It’s easy to look at the Greek Freak and say he can be molded into anything. It’s probably true. But Jason Kidd is the one doing the molding, and he might just be shaping him into one third of a master plan.