Giannis Antetokounmpo: Taking The Leap

Giannis Antetokounmpo: Taking The Leap: Everyone knows the Greek Freak is out of this world, starting the season with a bang going 25-18-9 and then 26-15-5 but a more interesting question is to gaze a little bit further into the future. I’d like to consider where he could take the most obvious leaps and where we could perhaps see Giannis Antetokounmpo take his game over the course of the season.  A good place to start is to look at some advanced metrics predictions where there is a bit of good news, FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO Model, arguably the most effective publicly available model says he is merely the fourth best player in the league.

I’d love to dig into what all of these juicy numbers mean but for all intents & purposes, it takes your everyday ‘plus-minus’ from the box score, splits it into offensive & defensive possessions and adjusts for level of competition. The special sauce is fancy math but to cut to the chase, it means to expect great things. What’s interesting here is the +2.4 which is a 41% bump in the right direction, reverting more to 2017 Giannis on defence whilst keeping a lot of those improvements he saw on the offensive end during 2018. Even better, it further supports what our eyes told us in the play-offs last year but how he has played in the first few games of this season suggest the offensive end could be even brighter.

The biggest change the Buck’s early going can tell us by just looking at box score can tell us is that he is feeling a lot more comfortable from behind the arc, well above previous rates through the preseason & game 1. In the 2018 Regular Season, only 1 in 10 shots was behind the arc which is notable. It’s well below other high usage, hyper versatile Point Forwards like Kevin Durant or Lebron James who during the same period who took a three nearly 1 in every 4 shots. This year could be the year we see Giannis Antetokounmpo take that jump forward and find his spots around the arc. It’s easy to say the early data is encouraging with him lifting those numbers to nearly 1 in 5 and this is going to make his life an awful lot easier when he does drive into the lane.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: Taking The Leap

Giannis Antetokounmpo: Taking The Leap

As a player who currently scores efficiently almost exclusively at the rim, where 49% of his shots were attempted last year taking a step forward beyond the arc is critical to that next step. Right now, his opponents are free to just crowd his path to the rim and forcing him to either find the open man or to take a bad shot at the rim, or on the way there. With more attempts beyond the arc, this becomes a very bitter medicine for a defender who is forced to play tight lest Giannis burn him 3 or 4 times a game at 3. This will only give Giannis more & more room to turn the corner and get around his man.  

Obviously, taking the jump is essential to entering the promised land where the ‘Perpetual MVP’ conversation that Lebron has seemingly existed in for over a decade. Before we run away with our imagination, I must issue a single caveat that the newly coached team around him is going to play a huge part of whether he is able to take the next step so young, so soon & really achieve the blindingly brilliant promise he is so clearly capable of.

By: Zachary Fitzpatrick