How one accessory is fueling Antetokounmpo's surge
POSTED: Feb 9, 2015 12:36 AM ET
Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like a different player over his last three games and there's a reason why.
"It's the sleeve." Antetokounmpo said after his 14-point, 11-rebound, five-assist, two-block performance against Boston. "I'm not joking, guys. When I wear the sleeve, I change. I'm a different person."
This different person is one who can hit a jump shot.
Antetokounmpo is 7-for-12 from 15-19 feet with the shooting sleeve after going 18-for-55 in his previous 48 games this season. This threat from midrange has opened up the rest of the floor for the freakishly long forward and he's attacked the opportunity.
"If he can make one, two, make that defender uncomfortable, it will open up the rest of the floor for him as far as getting to the rim and creating for himself and other guys," Bucks point guard Brandon Knight said. "He works on that shot. We just don't want him to hesitate. If he catches and shoots, we love it."
With his newfound proficiency and confidence from mid-range, his field goal attempts are up to 13.3 per game over his last three with career-high scoring numbers (25 vs. Los Angeles, 27 vs. Houston) in back-to-back games. He's getting to the rim and proving to be unstoppable there, nailing shots within five feet at an 82.6 percent clip (19-for-23) over this stretch.
"Have you seen the movie Like Mike? When he wear the shoes and he was balling like [Michael Jordan]? That's the sleeve."
– Giannis Antetokounmpo
Amid his Like Mike shooting renaissance, Antetokounmpo has also hit the glass at a career-high rate with four double-doubles in his last five games, compared to five for his entire career prior to this stretch. His 27-point, 15-rebound outburst in Houston was the first time he ever surpassed 20 points and 10 rebounds in a single game.
Block of the Night: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo flies in and rejects James Harden's layup attempt.
In total, Antetokounmpo is averaging 17.6 points (63.0 FG%, 74.1 FT%), 10.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.0 steals and 2.4 turnovers in 36.4 minutes to rank in the top 30 in Yahoo! Fantasy over his last five games. The only other player to post at least 17 points, 10 rebounds and two assists over this stretch? All-Star DeMarcus Cousins.
While a small sample size, this stretch shows Antetokounmpo's elite potential and offers a glimpse into what his game could consistently become in the very near future.
"He can be a difference-maker," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after Wednesday's game. "He is special. When you look at the skill level he has, the way he can handle the ball, the way he can pass it, he has a freakishness about him on the court that is undeniable."
This undeniable freakishness should make the 20-year-old, 6-foot-11 forward from Greece a stat-stuffing fantasy force for years to come.
Until then, he has four words of advice.
"Do it like Giannis."
Giannis On His Shooting Sleeve
Giannis Antetokounmpo speaks about the effects of his shooting sleeve.
Week 16 Schedule Breakdown
The first of two short weeks surrounding the All-Star break. Plan accordingly.
Two games: ATL, BKN, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, ORL, SAC, SAS, UTA, WAS
One game: BOS, CHA, PHI, PHX, POR, TOR
Pick 'Em Up
Hollis Thompson - 15% owned
The second-year small forward has been on a tear in Philadelphia over the last five games to average 15.8 points (56.3 FG%, 88.9 FT%), 3.4 3-pointers, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 turnovers in 29.9 minutes. He's shooting an absurd 63.0 percent from 3-point land over this stretch so don't expect him to sustain this level for long. But even with a dip, Thompson projects to be a solid source of 3s for the rest of the season.
Spencer Hawes - 42% owned
Hawes will take over the starting power forward role in Los Angeles with Blake Griffin (elbow) sidelined for the indefinite future. Hawes should provide double-figure points with some 3s and rebounds thrown in as he will likely get around 30 minutes per night. He posted 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting with two 3-pointers, one rebound, one block and two turnovers in his start against Oklahoma City on Sunday.