The Milwaukee Bucks are the definition of mediocrity. Since 1989/90 they have progressed past the first round just once. During that time, the list of the better players to have played for the franchise (before the last few seasons, that is) includes Ray Allen, Michael Redd, Sam Cassell, Vin Baker and Andrew Bogut. Some All-Stars in that lot, perhaps a Hall-of-Famer in Allen but as a list of elite franchise players it is lacking in quality and Bucks fans have done very well not to just give away their season passes when they have spent a quarter of a century sitting through utter mediocrity. The winds are changing though and this current crop of Bucks could well wash away 25 years of bad memories.
Let’s be more accurate, one man will drive this revolution – success, thy name is Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s easy to be lured by the charm of the youngster taking the league by storm, and haters will argue he turns the ball over too much but let’s cut the bullshit - this kid is already a legit NBA superstar. Amongst players who have played more than 30 minutes a game this young season, check out these numbers:
- 6th in player impact estimate
- 23rd in net rating
- 18th in usage
- 15th in rebounding percentage
- 26th in defensive rating
- 19th in true shooting percentage
- 5th in blocks (2.1/game)
- 2nd in steals (2.2/game)
- 12th in field goal percentage
The season statistics are impressive – 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 2.2 steals, 2.1 blocks per game and an effective field goal percentage of 54.2%. His plus/minus directly relates to how well the Bucks go – if he is a plus, they win and if he is a minus they lose.
Perhaps what's more impressive about this kid is that he defends all five positions, regularly, and plays all five positions offensively as well. We are not talking matador defence, or James Harden defence, we are talking proper defence. For a guy not yet 22 years old, you cannot understate how good he has been. Giannis was not a lottery pick – he was the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA draft. Anthony Bennett was taken #1 overall in that draft, Ben McLemore #7 – Cleveland and Sacramento fans should step away from the ledge, although it seems a reasonable reaction to re-reading the draft selections. ANTHONY BENNETT!! We all knew the Cavs made a blunder here, and they won the championship. But Giannis could be playing alongside LeBron and Kyrie…that would be basketball utopia.
All three were on the court together just a week back as the Bucks took on the Cavs. The reigning champs were flying, but were stopped in their tracks by Giannis. Not only did this kid dominate the game, but he stared down The King and didn’t blink. He took the challenge head on and DOMINATED as THE BEST player on the court, and it wasn’t even close.
A week or so earlier the Warriors were in town and the Bucks took them down to the wire, and although they lost it was through no fault of Antetokounmpo who was fantastic. Draymond Green is one of the better defensive players in the league (the best if you ask him) and found him unstoppable, despite stating post-match that they Bucks only ran two plays – that might be true, but one of them involves Giannis dominating…hey Dray, perhaps you should have pulled the super kick out of the closet because that’s how you normally deal with challenging situations, right? In that game he came up short, Giannis is doing everything possible to carry a middling Bucks team missing its second-best player (Khris Middleton who is out for the season) and has FUN on the court. How can you not be entertained by THIS!?
It is easy to simply look at the statistics and they can often be misleading but Giannis’ start to the season is something else. He became just the third player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon) to tally 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks a game. He has tallied for or more steals in five games this season, and three or more blocks in six games. He is on track to be just the fourth player in history to tally more than two blocks and steals a game. His defensive prowess is insane, when he develops a reliable jump shot the sky will be the limit.
Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns…quality young players but I don’t know whether the Bucks would trade Giannis for either player. And you couldn’t blame them for going all in on the dude from Greece.
Written by Steven Paice