What do you say: Let’s use this stay-at-home time to look back at some choice Giannis plays from his second season in the league. Why that season? Because they were right between when he was a rookie coming off the bench attempting a couple shots per game and when he became an All-Star in his fourth season. Giannis and the Bucks are in the midst of an all-time great season, both separately and together. This was almost impossible to imagine a few years ago.
These plays are not just the highlight dunks or plays that you might be used to seeing from his early years. They are just some of my personal favorites at the time (looking back at notes from then) or in retrospect. Plays that might otherwise be lost to time from his ascendant years.
Here are 20 plays from Giannis in 2014–15, his second season in the league, that showed how Giannis always had feel and it.
Hate to do it but have to start with this block against new teammate Marvin Williams in the season opener. Plenty more where that came from.
Giannis scored four points in this game in 12 minutes. He is now scoring more points per minute this season than all but two players in NBA history. Anyway, he wasn’t doing this 10 times a game at this point, but it was just as un-guardable when he did.
In the first six games of the season, Giannis averaged 1.5 free throws made per game. In this game, the seventh of the season, Giannis hit 6–7 from the line, and you can see in this and-one that he had it in him to be a dominant finisher.
This functioned as a preview of what Giannis now does all game every game, which is grab the basketball until it goes in. He has gotten even better at making sure it goes in. Also, this was the very early stage of Giannis dominating the Knicks, which he is made a habit of doing for the last five years (more on that later).
Aware from the beginning, team-first from the beginning.
Gets the block but not the possession and clearly every possession has been the most important possession ever and still is.
Giannis is a terrific one-on-one defender but he is a good choice for Defensive Player of the Year largely because he roams and destroys. He had a bit of that in him here.
Giannis made 8–11 shots from the field on this night. All eight makes were dunks and layups.
Did you know that this season the Bucks are statistically the best defensive rebounding team in history (based on Defensive Rebound Percentage) and that Giannis is a dominant rebounder? Well, the part that I care about here is the video-game spin after corralling the board.
The Bucks went to London to play the Knicks. They went up 14-0, won by 16 and this is where Giannis scored two of his 16 points that night.
This was the middle of the Bucks winning nine of 10 games in the middle of the season. This game was the only loss, but Giannis put up 27/15/4 and it was probably the best game of his career up to that point. Look at the touch on this tip-in.
The chasedown block is now a bit of a trademark of his, and so is the getting right back up after falling down hard.
Giannis went for 29 and Anthony Davis went for 43 and I remember saying something about how these two were going to match up in the Finals one day…
Giannis really grew as a playmaker in Spring 2015. On this night, he set a new career-high with seven assists, and didn’t turn the ball over. This was the sweetest of his seven assists on this night, spinning one-on-three, hinting at both his one-on-everyone future as well as his team-over-everything nature.
This one still makes the rounds from time to time but it is too good to not include. The around-the-back! Giannis by the way is 17–3 in his last 20 games against the Knicks, dating back to this 2014–15 season.
The fire. Garden legend growing…
I wrote back in 2015 here about how Giannis always jumped at the opportunity to attempt a full-court heave, shooting percentage be damned. You can see him call for the ball here and even see sense his disappointment when it doesn’t go in. This was the last game of the regular season and the Bucks were already locked in to the six spot in the bracket.
This was Giannis in the first postseason series of his career, and the Bucks lost this game to go down 3–0, but Giannis went for 25 and 12 at a time when Giannis going for 25 and 12 was not an everyday thing (he had scored more than 25 points twice in his career before this game). This was the start of Giannis going one-on-five after a made basket on the other end, something no one has done quite like him before or since.
After going down 3–0 in the first round, Giannis and the Bucks came back to win the next two games. In this Game 5, Giannis struggled offensively but made a number of decisive defensive plays in the fourth quarter. This was his second block in the final two minutes of the game, helping seal the win.