Giannis Antetokounmpo is entering the prime of his career for the Milwaukee Bucks. In his fifth NBA season, the 23-year-old forward has made significant strides in his development, such as playing in consecutive All-Star Games and leading the young Bucks in points, rebounds, and assists per game this season. As Milwaukee continues to ascend up the Eastern Conference ranks, Antetokounmpo, or “The Greek Freak” as some NBA fans call him, is emerging as one of the game’s most transcending talents. Here’s his 2018 Player Profile.
Outside Scoring: 6/20
Shooting, specifically from 3-point range, continues to be an area where Antetokounmp’s game reaches a crossroads. Even amidst a season where he’s logging a career-high in minutes (37.2 per game), Giannis can’t seem to shake his 3-point woes. So far this season, he’s making only 29 percent of his perimeter shots while attempting just a shade under two 3’s per game.
Interior Scoring: 19/20
Antetokounmpo’s post game comes twofold: his 6’11” height combined with a supernatural 7’3” wingspan, provides Giannis the ability to maneuver wherever he wants to on the court. Additionally, Antetokounmpo’s sheer athleticism enables him to glide his way to the bucket in a mere four to five dribbles. For a forward, that’s extraordinary.
With his go-go gadget-like arms and protracted legs, it should come as no surprise that Antetokounmpo currently finds himself first in the league in 2-point field goal makes, and second in 2-point field goal attempts. Further, Giannis’ efficiency in the paint is off the charts, shooting 76 percent on shots at the rim, per Basketball-Reference.
However, sliding and gliding to the basket at will isn’t the sole foundation to Antetokounmpo’s effectiveness inside. His craftiness, strength, and willingness to absorb contact stands alone for a player of his stature.
Over the past two years, Antekounmpo has managed the tricky task of padding muscle to his frame – going from 196 pounds on draft day to 222 this season – without bulking up.
In a 2016 ESPN article, Troy Flanagan, the Bucks’ director of performance, said that Antetokounmpo’s ability to add weight while maintaining little fat is remarkable.
“To be big is one thing, but to have muscles that are turned to their optimal characteristics is another,” said Flanagan. For Antetokounmpo, all of that lean muscle mass allows him to generate force quickly, which gives him the leverage that the NBA game demands.
In most cases, players of Antetokounmpo’s length and power suffer from core instability.
This is yet another area in which Giannis shatters compared to most compact players.
Other long and lean stars will have stability in the lower back, but not in their frontal or horizontal planes (found across the chest area). Antetokounmpo defies this logic. As a result, he possesses the aerobatic ability to bang down-low with bigs his size, as well as shoot over them with grace, all complex movements that originate from the core.
Here, you get a great example of this with Giannis driving and stopping on a dime, ultimately draining a difficult a fadeaway jumper.
Again, Antetokounmpo’s do-it-all physique allows him to twist and turn through traffic and score in the paint, like so.
For a player that has the ball in his hands as much as Antetokounmpo does, owning a 29.9 percent usage-rate, his assists per game average should be higher than 4.8. Nonetheless, Giannis is still a reputable passer even though he fails to make the extraordinary passes that others at his position do, like LeBron James or Kevin Durant.
Now, this isn’t to say that Antetokounmpo won’t improve as a passer because after all, the sky is the limit for the 23-year-old. Antekounmpo excels at simply making the smart pass to help Milwaukee’s offense go. Take these two passes for example, where Giannis finds an open shooter along the perimeter while backing out of a double-team and in transition.
Remember when I mentioned how Antetokounmpo’s lean muscle and length provides him an advantage scoring inside? Well, this also can be said for his efficiency on the glass. Antetokounmpo already rebounds much better than most centers, hauling in a career-high 10.4 rebounds per game; but his ability to corral opponents missed shots sets himself apart from the rest of the league’s power forwards.
Here, Antetokounmpo not only secures a defensive rebound but turns the missed shot into a score at the other end.
Giannis impacts the game defensively in a variety of ways, but none more so than with an undervalued body part: his hands.
The length of the average adult male hand, measured from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinkie, is 7.4 inches. For Antetokounmpo, it’s 12 inches (for reference, Kawhi Leonard’s hand is 11.25 inches, and LeBron James’ is 9.25).
The width of Antetokounmpo’s hands enables him to get a firm “pinch grip” on a 29.5-inch basketball (that’s commonly known as palming). Not only does palming the ball allow Antetokounmpo to gain maximum control, but by also making the ball an extension of his arm, he effectively increases two more inches in height.
All 12 inches of Giannis’ massive hands come into play in the passing lanes, where he’s averaging 1.4 steals per game this season.
But when it comes to blocking shots, Antetokounmpo’s badminton-like hands make an impact, too.
Think of it this way: basketball is a game of angles. A defender isn’t so much guarding his man as he is reducing the size of his angle to drive to the basket or pass to teammates. That’s where wingspan factors in for the Greek Freak, whose outstretched arms measure 7-foot-3, four inches more than his height.
Defensively, Giannis doesn’t have to worry as much about foot speed compared to the majority of the games bigs. Because Antetokounmpo is so freakishly long up-top, his ridiculous length becomes a factor to opponents looking to drive, like Carmelo Anthony.
Antetokounmpo also uses his protracted arms to cover ground quickly, as the case with these two blocks.
Free Throw Shooting: 18/20
Antetokounmpo is living at the charity stripe this season, attempting well over nine free throws per game, while making 75.3 percent of them. His ability to drive and draw fouls has been an underappreciated aspect of his young NBA career.
Giannis Antetokounmpo headlines the future of the NBA. As father time attempts to slow down LeBron James, Antetokounmpo is next in line to become basketball’s newest star. Paired with a cast of young talent in Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Jabari Parker, Antetokounmpo’s growth is imperative to Milwaukee’s future, which could be endless in the coming years.
Outside Scoring: 6/20
Interior Scoring: 19/20
Free-Throw Shooting: 18/20