By: Jalon Dixon, Columnist
After a convincing 111 – 104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, we can mark Dec. 19, 2019 as the night that Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo gave us our first glimpse of what the new mold of the most dominant player in the league is going to look like.
Entering this season, Antetokounmpo came in with the NBA world in his hands. In only six years, he went from being a middle of the pack 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft to cementing himself atop the league as one of the best players in the game today. He is a three-time all-star and three time All-NBA. Giannis was the 2016-2017 Most Improved Player award winner, and last season he received the coveted league MVP award. Yet with all that prior success, Antetokounmpo has still found a way to improve even off his MVP season by finally addressing his biggest flaw: Three-point shooting.
Every year since his rookie campaign, Giannis has improved in every statistical category except for his three-point shooting percentage. According to Basketball Reference, Antetokounmpo has only shot higher than 30% from three once since his rookie season when he was taking less than two a game. But this season he has truly accepted the challenge of wanting to grow as a shooter by taking a career-high 5.1 threes per game on 32.7% shooting which is the second highest in his career. Not only has he become more comfortable with taking those shots but now he is shooting them with conviction and that showed the most against the Lakers.
Facing off against the third-best defensive team in the league at the time according to Fox Sports led by forwards Lebron James and Anthony Davis, Antetokounmpo rose up to the challenge and put his full array of skills on display. Posting a stat line of 34 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, the Greek Freak shot 11 – 19 from the field and that is not even the most impressive part. The real eye-opener of this game was that of those 19 shots, eight of them were three-point attempts in which he hit a career-high five threes in a single game. As a player who won an MVP off of his ability to dominate in the paint, Antetokounmpo’s display of range against a team that typically defends the three-point arc well shows new potential in his game that could lead to him becoming the most unguardable player in the history of the league.
Listed at 6-foot-11, 242 pounds with the ability to guard all five positions on the floor, Antetokounmpo has redefined the mold of a championship-caliber player. In a league filled with superstar duos, the Greek Freak is averaging 30.5 points,12.9 rebounds, and 5.7 assists as the lone star on a well-rounded Bucks team. He can defend, facilitate, drive and score at will in the paint. Antetokounmpo has a game that gives you everything you want in a modern-day big man while also maintaining the competitive mentality of the players from the 80s and early 90s.
The Greek Freak is coming for the crown and the title of being “the best player in the world” and if he starts hitting threes as he did against the Lakers, the league and the national media will have no choice but to give him what he wants.