After a surprisingly good rookie season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has improved in just about every way in his second season. Antetokounmpo has added nearly five points and two rebounds to his per game averages while shooting a better percentage from the field and free-throw line.
It’s not just the box score, though. Antetokounmpo has looked much more confident and aggressive on the floor, as he’s relentlessly attacked overwhelmed defenders off the dribble on his way to easy dunks and layins at the rim.
Although his increased aggressiveness has been a pleasure to watch, I’m unwilling to believe Antetokounmpo will turn into one of the league’s 10 best players until I start regularly seeing him miss some shots.
That is not a typo. I honestly can’t wait for Antetokounmpo to start throwing up some bricks. Let me explain.
This season, according to Basketball Reference, Antetokounmpo has taken 55.2 percent of his shots from 0-3 feet from the rim, 18.7 percent from 3-10 feet, 7.2 percent from 10-16 feet, 11.8 percent from between 16 feet and the 3-point line, and just 7.2 percent from the beyond the 3-point arc. Nearly three-quarters of Antetokounmpo’s shot attempts have been within 10 feet of the basket, which, when factoring in his ridiculous wingspan, means Antetokounmpo is rarely taking low-percentage shots.
Avoiding low percentage shots and playing within yourself are very good traits for basketball players to develop, and two great ways to help your team play winning basketball. But ultimately, that’s not what the Bucks should want for Antetokounmpo in the coming years. Bucks fans should want to see Antetokounmpo start regularly taking catch-and-shoot jumpers with confidence, even if those shots aren’t falling at a high rate.
Becoming a great jump-shooter can be a bit of a process, especially for a 20-year-old who may still be growing and possesses monstrous hands. It appears Antetokounmpo does have some shooting acumen, though, as he hit 34.7 percent of his 118 3-point attempts as a rookie. But Bucks fans will likely have to deal with some misses in the coming years.
If Antetokounmpo can develop a catch-and-shoot 3-point shot, he should become an absolute force offensively. Antetokounmpo has shown the ability to blow by defenders with his ball-handling ability and length, with defenders playing 5 feet off him at the 3-point line this season. A 3-point stroke may actually turn him into a dream for analytical basketball thinkers, as it could lead to a bevy of treys, dunks and free throws.
Although that last paragraph sounds awfully exciting, it’s important to remember that even if Antetokounmpo owns the tools to become one of the league’s best players, skill development in the NBA takes years, not months. There will likely be times in which Bucks fans see flashes of brilliance, but those flashes should not be viewed as an expectation, but rather just a tease of what’s to come in the future.
So, when Antetokounmpo clangs jumpers off the rim in the coming months and years, don’t get discouraged. Enjoy it. It’s all just part of the process.
What to Read
Larry Sanders suspended at least 10 games for drug violation – Minutes before this edition of Quick Bucks posted, word came down that the NBA dropped a second drug-related suspension on Larry Sanders. Expect a lot more on this as it plays out, but BrewHoop had a good quick recap.
The Arrival of John Henson – Zach Lowe also decided to write about John Henson at the end of last week and, unsurprisingly, did it way better than me. Lowe dissected Henson’s strong play in the last 10 games and what it might mean for Henson and the Bucks going forward.
A Knicks-Bucks Explainer for Our English Friends – An excerpt: “The circuitous, plot-laden route Kidd took to join Milwaukee is one that any student of European history would enjoy, as it displays how ruthless on-court genius can seamlessly morph into treacherous political brilliance.” Fun read.
As NBA trade season approaches, how will the Bucks balance present and future? – On the latest Brew Hoop podcast, the Brew Hoopers bring up the possible parallels between Jason Kidd and Scott Skiles, and discuss what the Bucks should do before this year’s trade deadline. This is included in “What to Read” because the comment section is insanely thorough and fun to parse through.
Clip of the Week
Kenyon Martin has some fresh legs, y’all!
Week in Review
Friday – It should have been a much-hyped matchup between the league’s top two rookies. Instead, the Bucks were forced to take on Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves without Jabari Parker, but still beat them, 98-84.
Saturday – The Bucks kept it tight for the majority of the game, but eventually fell 95-87 to the Chicago Bulls for the second time this season in the I-94 series. Brandon Knight led the way for the Bucks with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Thursday – O.J. Mayo provided 22 points off the bench while Antetokounmpo provided the highlights in the Bucks’ 95-79 victory over the New York Knicks in London. The Bucks jumped out to a 14-0 lead to start the game and never looked back in giving the Knicks their 16th consecutive loss.
Next Week’s Preview
Monday – After facing one of the league’s worst teams, the Bucks will welcome the Toronto Raptors to Milwaukee. The Raptors started the season white-hot, but have lost five of their last seven games.
Stats of the Week
6.4 – Since returning from injury on Dec. 26, John Henson leads the NBA with 6.4 blocks per 48 minutes. (via Partick Stumpf)
23.2 – Among players that have played in at least 20 games this season, Kendall Marshall is creating 23.2 points by assist per 48 minutes. This is the league’s 13th-highest mark. (via NBA Stats)
.150 – It has been just two games and only 13 minutes, but Kenyon Martin has recorded the Bucks’ most win shares per 48 minutes, .150. I assume this has nothing to do with a small sample size. (via Basketball Reference)
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can yell at Eric or explain to him how Kendall Marshall wouldn’t make a great defensive midfielder on Twitter @eric_nehm. See the last Quick Bucks here.