1. Containing Antetokounmpo a big chore
Now in his sixth NBA season, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has ascended to the ranks of the league’s superstars, putting up career-high numbers yet again.
Antetokounmpo is among the midseason leaders in the MVP race with his averages of 26.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. The rebounding and assist numbers are at a career-best pace, while he’s also shooting a career-high 58.1 percent.
He is not, however, part of the Bucks’ 3-point shooting revolution, as he’s hitting a career-low 13.3 percent from behind the arc this season, while his free throw percentage has dipped to the second-worst of his career at 69.8.
What Antetokounmpo is doing more than ever is getting to the rack, with nearly 60 percent of his 17 shots per game coming in the restricted area, where he is converting at a ridiculously good 79.3 percent.
But his jump shot has not been reliable this season from any distance — he’s shooting 41.5 percent from 16 feet out to the 3-point line, 33.3 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 29.7 percent from three to 10 feet from the cup.
So the key to defending Antetokounmpo is to make him a jump shooter. Sounds easy, right?
At 6-foot-11 and 242 pounds, however, Antetokounmpo can Euro step from nearly half-court with his gigantic strides and he has explosive quickness that enables him to get past defenders with relative ease.
The Brooklyn Nets don’t have anyone that can match Antetokounmpo’s length and quickness — in fairness, who the hell does??? — so they will have to counter his loping flights to the rim with help from the weak side.
He is prone to committing early and thus susceptible to step-in offensive fouls. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has drawn the assignment on Antetokounmpo in the past, but with the Greek Freak’s increased strength, RHJ is now not only giving up four inches, but considerable bulk as well.
Rodions Kurucs could be an option, but he gives up even more bulk than Hollis-Jefferson, even if his height and length are closer to that of Antetokounmpo.
To stop the Milwaukee Bucks, you have to turn Giannis Antetokounmpo into a perimeter player. That’s well known. Actually executing it continues to be the hard part.