Six Month Gianniversary

by Alex Boeder Writer

Nine Lives

In NBA history, 97 teenagers have suited up for a season.

Nine of those players ranked in the top three on their team in minutes played.

Here is that full list of nine:

  • LeBron James
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Kevin Durant
  • Dwight Howard
  • Chris Bosh
  • Stephon Marbury
  • Kevin Garnett
  • Tony Parker
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo

This is not to suggest in any way that Giannis is on his way to a career like the list of mostly superstars above. But it does mean that he is part of a very select group to have featured so prominently on an NBA team as a teenager. On the last night of the regular season during the Bucks/Hawks game, Bucksketball told me that someone asked him on Twitter why Giannis wasn’t playing more, something along those lines. Now this is a story you are reading.

Going into the season, a lot of people wanted the Bucks to play their new group of young players – namely Giannis – and a lot of people wanted the Bucks to get in position for a high draft pick. Given those wants, and I know was a rough road, a lot of people could be somewhat pleased.

Six Month Gianniversary

In a casual late-October interview, GM John Hammond gave Larry Drew his blessing, even his encouragement, to let Giannis play.

"We want to expose [Giannis] but not overexpose him. Any time that Larry Drew can find a way to get him on the floor, sneak in minutes for him, get him out there but not put him in too uncomfortable a position early on. But we'll see how things go in training camp, how things go in exhibition season, really see what he's capable of doing."

John Hammond, Bucks General Manager

Then he played four minutes on Opening Night. One month to the day later, he was the sixth man in 27 bright minutes against the Celtics. Three weeks after that, he earned his first NBA start, the first of 21 starts in a row. Giannis played 17+ minutes in every game for three straight months to conclude the season.

Today is exactly six months after Opening Night, perhaps exactly six months until Opening Night.

Next season will be about a lot more than minutes, so here are a few numbers to build on.

Six Numbers To Build On

43.9% According to Player Tracking Data (fun first public year), Giannis rated as the best non-center in the NBA in terms of opponent field goal percentage at the rim (minimum: three attempts guarded per game). Just ahead of Serge Ibaka, Andrew Bogut, Taj Gibson and co. Very encouraging stuff, and it makes some sense, because Giannis blocks a lot of shots and gets up there for a non-center.

But teammates Miroslav Raduljica, Ekpe Udoh, and John Henson also ranked among the leaders in this category, and the Bucks finished dead last in defensive efficiency.  Despite the at-the-rim heroics, Giannis struggled to recover through screens and walk the line between help and man-to-man defense – and plenty of other advanced stats didn’t paint such a flattering photo. This is par for the rookie course, and he otherwise showed awareness and instincts that suggest major capacity for improvement on the defensive end. He is his own player, but out of all the comparisons, prime Andrei Kirilenko, an absolute terror in his day, is a fun one.

39.2 % That represents his three-point percentage post-All Star Weekend. And it is a quite a few ticks up from the 31.4 % he shot from three before the break. The second half surge bumped him up to 34.7 % overall in his rookie campaign, which is pretty close to the league average of 36.0 %. The really interesting part about his three-point game is his shot chart distribution. He made just 1-17 (5.8 %) on threes from the corners, but 9-14 (64.2%) on straightaway threes. His favorite spot by far was the center-right-side, where he made a solid 18-43 (41.8%).

Giannis didn’t show off much of an in-between, mid-range game, which is not atypical for a rookie. In the meantime, cheer for him to move up into the high 30s on threes and continue what should be an inevitable progression into a very strong finisher at the rim. Those are the two highest percentages shots on the court, and he gets that.

.483 Giannis posted a really nice .483 free throw rate, which measures the number of free throw attempts per field goal attempt. The good news is that this is the third of the three most efficient types of shots, along with the two mentioned above, and Giannis already is better than most of the league at getting calls at the rim.

However, one reason that his free throw rate was so high (second best on the team behind Ramon Sessions) is that he hardly ever attempted field goals. In fact, only Ekpe Udoh among teammates attempted fewer shots per minute, which means Zaza Pachulia, Miroslav Raduljica, Nate Wolters, and everyone else managed to find more shots. Again, it is encouraging that Giannis recognized his limits even as a rookie, but to make an impact moving forward, he will need to find an offensive niche or two.

68.3% His first-year free throw percentage. If getting to the line is to be a heavy part of his game – and we should hope it is – then Giannis will want to get up into the 70s (and then 80s). Let’s do that.

67% Giannis played 67% of his minutes at small forward, 31% at power forward, 1% at shooting guard, per basketball-reference. Those numbers feel a bit off in a few ways, he played more two guard and less power forward, to start. In any event, he looked most like a three both offensively and defensively. And though he can run some point forward in transition and though he is growing into power forward heights, he is really just a tall small forward for now.

5. Giannis accumulated five assists in five different games, and that season-best number should go up next year as he diversifies offensively and evolves into a more confident off-the-dribble prober. His modest assist numbers are less a reflection of his court vision or passing skills (which are pretty good) and more a product of his limited involvement in the half court.




Giannis Soaring

Giannis gets the steal and uses his length to beat the defense down the court for the flying high one hand jam.
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Giannis Soaring

Giannis gets the steal and uses his length to beat the defense down the court for the flying high one hand jam.
Jan 22, 2015  |  00:23

Steal And Slam

Giannis Antetokounmpo gets the steal and rams it home in transition.
Jan 21, 2015  |  00:00

Loft It Up

Brandon Knight gets the outlet on the wing and lofts it up for Giannis Antetokounmpo to lay-in the alley-oop feed.
Jan 21, 2015  |  00:00


Giannis Antetokounmpo will not be denied as he drives, side steps the defense, and elevates high for the emphatic two-hand finish.
Jan 21, 2015  |  00:00

Jazz vs. Bucks

Gordon Hayward scores 24 points, Enes Kanter adds 23 points with 16 rebounds as the Jazz top the Bucks 101-99.
Jan 21, 2015  |  00:00

Steal of the Night: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo gets the steal from Gordon Hayward and flies in for the high-flying tomahawk jam.
Jan 21, 2015  |  00:00

BMO Harris Plays of the Week: Week 12

Check out week 12's best plays from the lone game in London
Jan 19, 2015  |  00:57

Bucks Remember Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today the Bucks will play on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The team talks about the importance of Dr. King and the impact he's had on their lives.
Jan 19, 2015  |  01:26

Antetokounmpo to Knight

Brandon Knight takes the pass and finishes with a powerful slam.
Jan 18, 2015  |  00:00

Bucks in Transition

Khris Middleton starts the break with the steal and Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes with an alley-oop dunk from Brandon Knight.
Jan 14, 2015  |  00:00

Antetokounmpo Finishes

Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes with a big dunk off the feed from Zaza Pachulia in transition.
Jan 14, 2015  |  00:00

Knicks vs. Bucks

Brandon Knight records 20 points and six steals, Zaza Pachulia adds a double-double as the Bucks defeat the Knicks in London.
Jan 14, 2015  |  00:00

All-Access: Bucks Practice in London

Take an All-Access look at Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd at practice in London.
Jan 13, 2015  |  00:00

Bucks Visit Chelsea F.C.

The team visited Stamford Bridge, home of the Chelsea Football Club
Jan 13, 2015  |  01:04

Strong Take

Giannis Antetokounmpo drives in for the finger roll and draws the foul on Aaron Brooks.
Jan 9, 2015  |  00:00

Mini-Movie: Bucks Clobber Sixers For 5th Straight Road Win

Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton score 18 points apiece, as the Bucks defeat the Sixers in Philly.
Jan 8, 2015  |  01:03

Henson Denies, Giannis Scores

John Henson blocks Zach LaVine layup attempt, in transition Giannis Antetokounmpo scores the layup.
Jan 8, 2015  |  00:00

The Freak Flush

Giannis Antetokounmpo drives the baseline and lands the two-handed jam.
Jan 6, 2015  |  00:00

Brothers Unite

On Sunday night, Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the D-League's Westchester Knicks paid a visit to Madison Square Garden to watch his parent club take on his little brother Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

Giannis Finishes

Jared Dudley dets the steal, in transition Khris Middleton finds Giannis Antetokounmpo who finishes with the dunk.
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

Henson finds Giannis

John Henson dishes the nice pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo who finishes with the dunk.
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

Giannis Attacks The Rim

Brandon Knight finds Giannis Antetokounmpo who drives to the basket and attacks the rim with the dunk.
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

Knight Shines

Giannis Antetokounmpo passes behind his back to Brandon Knight who finishes with the monster dunk.
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

Giannis Attacks The Rim

Brandon Knight finds Giannis Antetokounmpo who drives to the basket and attacks the rim with the dunk.
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

Suns vs. Bucks

Markieff Morris scores 26 points and grabs 10 rebounds as the Suns defeat the Bucks 102-96.
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

Assist of the Night: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo passes behind his back to Brandon Knight who finishes with the monster dunk.
Jan 5, 2015  |  00:00

BMO Harris Plays of the Week: Week 10

The best plays from week 10 brought to you by BMO Harris Bank
Jan 5, 2015  |  01:05

Mini-Movie: Bucks Beat Knicks

Take a look back as the Bucks stole a game Sunday in New York
Jan 5, 2015  |  01:16

Bucks vs. Knicks

Brandon Knight scores 17 points, Zaza Pachulia and Giannis Antetokounmpo each add a double-double as the Bucks defeat the Knicks.
Jan 3, 2015  |  00:00

I'm Everywhere

Giannis Antetokounmpo misses on the 3-point attempt, hustles back on defense, and gets a big block on the rim at the other end.
Jan 1, 2015  |  00:00

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