By Dan Ferrara, NBA International
Dynamic Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t just the face of the franchise, he has taken the league by storm due to his extraordinary athleticism.
The term “athletic” is often overused in sports, but Antetokounmpo’s skill-set is truly unheard of for someone with his 6-foot-11 frame. The idea that he is just 21-years-old and still growing and improving is even tougher to fathom.
Antetokounmpo runs the floor and passes like a point guard, yet rebounds like a power forward and blocks shots like a center. If being a “five-tool player” were a legitimate thing in the NBA, there’s no doubt that his name would be on a short list of players who fit the criteria.
Last season marked a major shift in Antetokounmpo’s career, as the conversation changed from talking about his talent and what he could be to talking about what he already is. He took a serious step forward in 2016, racking up his first five career triple-doubles in a span from Feb. 22 to April 1 once point guard Michael Carter-Williams got injured. The “Greek Freak” averaged career-highs almost across the board – take a look at how his season last year compared to his previous bests:
|Giannis Antetokounmpo Career-High Stats|
|Field Goal %||.506||.491||.015|
Numbers on a page are one thing, but visuals always help tell the story. It’s hard to believe the things that he can do on the court, but once you see them, you realize how special he is.
Perhaps no better highlight describes Antetokounmpo’s skills than this one, when he single-handedly runs a fastbreak and slices through three defenders for the posterizing jam. His ability to make plays on the open floor separates him from almost every other player his size.
Though he may be listed at just 222 pounds, here’s Antetokounmpo working on the smaller defender down on the low block. He spins off him in the post and hits a incredible up-and-under layup around Utah’s Rudy Gobert.
This is a veteran move by Antetokounmpo, demonstrating he is wise beyond his years. He knows he has the mismatch and takes advantage, but then when the shot-blocker helps in the paint, he uses the rim as a weapon to stunt Gobert’s attempt. Brilliant.
As noted earlier, Antetokounmpo notched five triple-doubles this season thanks to his improved passing. Here’s a nifty feed around Dewayne Dedmon to Jabari Parker for the easy finish.
Look at the ground that Antetokounmpo covers on the defensive end! It looks like he has no chance at catching up to Evan Fournier, but his long strides put him in position for the huge chase-down block off the backboard to deny the layup.
Antetokounmpo has also become a defensive threat by increasing his steals totals. Once he picks the ball off with his long arms, he’s off to the races. He easily converts this steal into a slam, utilizing an incredible Eurostep around Elfrid Payton as well.
Bucks fans must be ecstatic that their team has such a dynamic forward to build around. Antetokounmpo will turn a spry 22 in December, making him a mainstay in the organization for quite a few more seasons. He will continue to hone his skills and revolutionize the “point forward” position under the tutelage of head coach Jason Kidd.
Kidd, a future Hall of Fame point guard, will allow Antetokounmpo to thrive in the open court and give him the playmaking duties needed to put his vision and passing skills on display. It wouldn’t be surprising if Antetokounmpo is one day averaging over 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game, even as soon as next year. He can also cover four positions on the defensive end of the floor, giving the Bucks endless options and lineup rotations.
There may not be a nickname more fitting than the “Greek Freak” to describe Antetokounmpo’s incredible talent. It’ll just be exciting to see how far it takes him and what the rest of his career holds. One thing is for certain, however – Antetokounmpo is changing the NBA game one play at a time.