The Greek Freak is Freaking Out the NBA
Giannis Antetokounmpo has had himself an amazing start to the NBA season. As a matter of fact, it has been a historical start to the season. Giannis came out on a tear and set the internet on fire with his beginning of the season numbers. Through 14 games, no player in NBA history has scored the amount of points, grabbed the amount of rebounds, and dished out the number of assists that Giannis has accumulated through the first 14 games of this season.
It is not like this explosion has come out of nowhere, but Giannis has upped his scoring average from 22 points per game last season to over 30 this season. He is taking more shots per game, but how is he scoring so efficiently. On 15 shot attempts per game last season, Giannis shot 52% per Basketball Reference. That looks pretty good until you look at this season where he is shooting 57% on 20 shot attempts per game. Looking at Giannis’ shooting numbers and you can see that he is shooting 47% of his shots at the rim and he is making over 80% of them. The belief was that Giannis was going to need a jump shot to dominate and while he has shown some improvement in that area, it has been his ability to finish down low that has been key to his hot start.
Giannis is built like no other player I have ever seen. Sure some guys have longer arms, but Giannis uses his to absolutely destroy players offensively and defensively. He covers so much ground with his long strides and long arms that even when he is beat, he can block a shot, even when he is far away, he can get to the basket. Watching him play is simply amazing. Let’s look at some examples from this season.
Watching this first clip, Giannis is isolated on the wing defending Carmelo Anthony. Anthony uses a jab step and a spin move and leaves Giannis in the dust. However, Giannis is able to get back into the play and block the shot. As an offensive player, Anthony made a great move and had an easy bucket against any other defender in the league, but because of Giannis’ length and quickness an easy bucket turns into a block.
In this play, Andre Drummond makes a beautiful pass over the top of Giannis to Tobias Harris for an easy dunk, but again Giannis is able to get back into the play and block the shot. Giannis is becoming a game changing defender, but let’s get to where all of the MVP talk has come from and that is Giannis’ offensive game.
This play looks like an average hook shot, but pay attention to where Giannis catches the ball. When he catches the ball, he has one foot right next to the 3 point line. He catches the ball, takes one dribble, two huge strides, and he is on the other side of the paint putting in an easy little hook shot. How can you defend this guy when he covers that much ground?
This play is a driving layup, but the amazing part is watch how Giannis’ shot is not even bothered a little by Pau Gasol in front of the basket standing straight up. He is able to go over any player in the league.
When I saw this play, I had to rewind League Pass and watch it 5 times. He gets an outlet pass that he doesn’t know has been thrown. He realizes it has been thrown, dribbles it away from a defender, dribbles again, picks it up, takes two giant strides while Euro stepping around Manu Ginobili for an easy layup. Unbelievable, simply unbelievable.
The other part to Giannis’ improvement offensively is in this clip. Giannis is stronger. He is able to go up and finish over bigger guys down low.
While this clips look great and do demonstrate some of Giannis’ improvement. Part of the reason for his improvement is that he is maturing as a player. He came into the league at 19 years old. He is now in his 5th season in the league. This is the time where players start to figure it out and become the players that they will be for the rest of their careers. Giannis’ offensive and defensive improvements are the result of growth as a basketball player. The crazy thing to think about is this as good as Giannis is going to be? Is there more room for him to improve his game? I am not sure, but the Bucks have a franchise player and with the addition of Eric Bledsoe they could make a strong push towards a high seed in the playoffs. I don’t know about you, but the thought of Giannis vs Lebron in May is pretty amazing. Let’s see if Giannis can keep up this amazing level of play for the rest of the season.