Bango’s Minute: New Year, New Threats

Hello everybody, welcome back to Bango’s Minute. Thank you for all of the support on last week’s article. After publishing I thought about what I could write about for this week. As I was thinking about what I could write, I saw a highlight video of the Bucks vs. Lakers game from a few weeks ago, so I watched it to see if I noticed anything that would make a good writing topic. Then, it hit me. That was the game that Giannis hit FIVE threes. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s Bango’s Minute.

New Year, New Threats

Bango's Minute
Bango’s Minute

“He was basically a back-cut huy… now, with the ball in his hands, he’s dangerous. We have to load up to him, put three or four guys in the paint, and try to force somebody else to beat us,” said Glenn Robinsion on Giannis Antetokounmpo, before the Bucks faced the Warriors a couple weeks ago. What he’s saying, isn’t new.Throughout his whole career, Giannis has been a force to be reckoned with in the paint. He uses his strength and skill to find the basket to his advantage. According to 63% of Giannis’ shots come from within ten feet from the basket. His height and strength pose a huge disadvantage for other Power Forwards, and even centers, that get matched up against him. Believe it or not, one thing that makes Giannis’ paint play easier (and more effective) is our focus on the 3-point shot. When Mike Budenholzer came in, one of his big focuses was passing until you could find that perfect, wide-open, three point shot. The Bucks listened. Comparing the 2017-18 season to the 2018-19 season, the Bucks went from attempting 2,024 three pointers, to 3,134 threes. If you don’t feel like doing mental math, that’s an improvement of 1,110 threes. Shocking to some fans that have been around for the long haul, Our three point completion percentage stayed almost the same. This new found success, was worth much more than it was on the surface. With defences having to key in on shooters around the perimeter, that took some of the double-teams off of Giannis, giving him a much easier change at bunnies in the paint. This new scheme worked great, as the Bucks drastically improved their record, and the outlook of their franchise. This season, things have gotten even better.

As you remember from Bango’s Minute: The Big Ragu and Wing Depth, I mentioned how deep the Bucks were at the wing spots. However, that doesn’t mean that the Bucks aren’t deep at the 4 or the 5 either. With other skilled players like the Lopez brothers, Ersan Illyasova, and even D.J. Wilson, the Bucks have been playing just fine with Giannis on the bench. Here’s a stat from ESPN. Out of (what ESPN considers to be) the top 5 contenders, the Lakers, Rockets, Clippers, Sixers, and Bucks, the bucks have the best net rating with Giannis on the bench. The Lakers without LeBron, and the Rockets without James Harden even have negative net ratings. So, sure, the Bucks can perform in the paint without Giannis. Looking at the depth chart, you can see that, even though the Bucks have more all around skill at the guard positions, the just don’t have as many bodies. So… why not just put Giannis at the 2 or 3 for a few minutes in a game where we need him there? This may not sound like the best idea, but it does sound a lot better when you look at how much Giannis has improved at shooting the three. Last season, in 72 games played, Giannis Antetokounmpo made 52 3-point shots. Through the first 35 games of this season, he has already made 59 threes, out of 181 attempted. For the modern NBA superstar, 32% behind the 3-point arch isn’t necessarily great. For Giannis, however, it is huge. Giannis did start out his career by making 41 threes his first season. He followed up that season with 7 three pointers the next. Since then, he has been slowly improving. But this year, we have seen the biggest jump in his career. 

Going back to the start, Glenn Robinson was somewhat right, but not entirely. Teams can’t just give Giannis space behind the arc, waiting for him to drive anymore. Giannis improving his three point skill will be vital if we want to win the finals. We need to attack the game at as many dimensions as possible, which will open shots at other positions. 

Thank You for reading this week’s edition of Bango’s Minute, and GO BUCKS!