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.




Is Giannis Nervous for the Playoffs?

After today's final practice before heading to Chicago to take on the Bulls Giannis Antetokounmpo talked about how he feels going into his first playoff game.
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Is Giannis Nervous for the Playoffs?

After today's final practice before heading to Chicago to take on the Bulls Giannis Antetokounmpo talked about how he feels going into his first playoff game.
Apr 17, 2015  |  01:50

Bucks Players and Coach Kidd React to the Bucks New Logos

See what Coach Kidd and the team think of the Bucks new logos.
Apr 15, 2015  |  00:51

Giannis Cocks Back and Slams On 'Em

Giannis cuts down the lane with bad intentions
Apr 13, 2015  |  00:10

Bullet Pass from Giannis Gets Plumlee the JAM

Giannis breaks the trap, dribbles it down the court and finds Miles Plumlee with a bullet pass.
Apr 13, 2015  |  00:12

Giannis With the Wicked Spin and Slam

It's just not fair...we're dizzy just from watching Giannis spin and slam.
Apr 13, 2015  |  00:15

Giannis Shot Puts It To Henson for the SLAM

Giannis floats up the pass to John Henson who goes up and throws it down.
Apr 12, 2015  |  00:12

Nets vs. Bucks

Ersan Ilyasova scores 21 points, Khris Middleton adds 16 points and seven assists as the Bucks defeat the Nets.
Apr 12, 2015  |  02:11

Duck and Jam

Giannis goes under and up for the dunk.
Apr 10, 2015  |  00:12

At The Buzzer

Giannis Antetokounmpo sticks the floater off glass to beat the buzzer!
Apr 10, 2015  |  00:20

Check My Footwork

Giannis Antetokounmpo gets position and goes up and under the defense for the jam inside.
Apr 10, 2015  |  00:14

Cleared For Takeoff

Giannis Antetokounmpo gets the nasty block on one end, and takes off for the posterizing jam on the break!
Apr 10, 2015  |  00:38

Giannis Says "No Points For You Tobias!"

Giannis misses the shot on the offensive end, but hustles down court to chase down Tobias Harris.
Apr 4, 2015  |  00:12

Giannis with Authority

Giannis Antetokounmpo takes the pass from Jared Dudley under the bucket for the two hand hammer.
Apr 3, 2015  |  00:11

Spin In

Giannis Antetokounmpo spins on the baseline drive for the sweet finger roll finish.
Apr 3, 2015  |  00:12

Height Advantage: Giannis

Giannis grabs the board and takes off going coast-to-coast, dishing off a nifty pass to get John Henson a jam.
Apr 1, 2015  |  00:12

Giannis Dunks Like a Running Back

Giannis gets low as he hits the hole and then explodes up for the dunk.
Apr 1, 2015  |  00:11

Giannis Denies Moore

Giannis Antetokounmpo runs down E'Twaun Moore and swats his layup attempt off the glass.
Apr 1, 2015  |  00:11

BMO Harris Plays of the Week: Week 22

Week 22's best plays brought to you by BMO Harris Bank.
Mar 30, 2015  |  02:12

The Greek Freak Slams The Lob on the Warriors

Tyler Ennis throws it up to Giannis who knows exactly what to do with it.
Mar 28, 2015  |  00:23

Bucks On The Loose

Ersan Ilyasova picks up the loose ball, passes out to Khris Middleton who throws it up for Giannis Antetokounmpo for the lay in.
Mar 28, 2015  |  00:17

Mini-Movie: Turkish Thunder Rains Down on Pacers

Ersan scored a career-high 34 as the Bucks beat the Pacers
Mar 27, 2015  |  01:13

Wednesday's Practice Report: Gotta Keep Winning

Coach Kidd and Giannis Antetokounmpo talk about how they're focused on Thursday's game against the Pacers after winning Tuesday in dramatic fashion.
Mar 25, 2015  |  01:32

Mini-Movie: Bucks Shock the Heat With Comeback for the Ages

It was a playoff-like atmosphere with HUGE playoff implications and the Bucks came storming back to win it at the buzzer.
Mar 25, 2015  |  01:42

BMO Harris Plays of the Week: Week 21

Check out the best plays from week 21.
Mar 24, 2015  |  01:50

Gruber Call of the Game: 3/22/15 vs. Cleveland

Middleton leads the break and drops the dime for the two hand Giannis flush.
Mar 23, 2015  |  00:15

The Fastest Break

A rebound turns into a dunk in just a few long Giannis strides
Mar 22, 2015  |  00:12

Defense to Offense

Giannis Antetokounmpo forces the turnover and takes it in for the strong deuce.
Mar 22, 2015  |  00:16

Seems Too Easy

Giannis keeps his dribble alive until he jams
Mar 20, 2015  |  00:10

Giannis Stretch Armstrong on the Run Out

Khris Middleton knows exactly what to do with a rebound. Chuck it to Giannis for the E-A-S-Y dunk.
Mar 20, 2015  |  00:15

Bucks vs. Nets

Brook Lopez scores 32 points and grabs 18 rebounds as the Nets defeat the Bucks in triple overtime 129-127.
Mar 20, 2015  |  02:53

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