Giannis Is Better Than He Was Last Year

Giannis split the Utah defense with aplomb from start to finish on Monday night, and in doing so, managed to avoid committing a single offensive foul.

It is not like he avoided contact. Giannis went to the line 19 times, which was seven more than the entire Jazz team, and he earned them all. In fact, Giannis only committed one foul overall, and it was a light one. To have the ball enough to score 50 points, go to the line 19 times, grab 14 rebounds, dish six assists, and still not commit any offensive fouls or commit any turnovers is to demonstrate complete control of a game in a way that few in history ever have.

Almost unfathomably, and yet somehow also predictably, Giannis has made yet another leap this season, progressing clearly from his MVP campaign last year.

In the game-turning sequence of the night with the Bucks down five points midway through the third quarter, Bledsoe drew a charge, and Giannis came down and hit a luxurious fadeaway.

Not that he takes many, but Giannis is hitting a career-best 42.1 percent on long twos this season, making him one of the most accurate shooters from that distance on the team.

After missing his third straight three to start the game against the Jazz, he held and held and held his follow-through all the way through the horn to end the first quarter. He then hit three of his final four three-pointers, looking increasingly comfortable, still holding his follow-through. On the possession after hitting the fadeaway, Giannis tied the game with this one.

His confidence stepping into straightaway threes and holding his follow-through is reminiscent of LeBron, who transformed into a much-improved shooter from deep in the second half of his career.

Giannis is shooting way more threes this season (up from 2.8 per game to 4.7 per game), and he is making a better percentage. (up from 25.6 percent to 30.0 percent). There will be more ups and downs, like with any shooter, but he does appear to be becoming a shooter.

After being the most dominant player in the world in the paint last year, Giannis is somehow finishing much better this season, converting 83.1 percent of his shots from within three feet of the hoop, an improvement of more than six percent. In the final three minutes against the Jazz, he put the game away with three dunks. In the rare times that he misses, he often cleans it up.

Against the Jazz, he scored more than three times as many points in the paint as anyone on the Jazz. Giannis leads the NBA in points in the restricted area, and converts at the best percentage.

On the break, he is more unstoppable than ever, leading the league in fastbreak points per game. In transition, he is inevitable.

Compared to his MVP campaign, Giannis is scoring more, rebounding more, dishing more assists (and generally passing better), scooping up more steals, getting to the line more, and has a lower turnover percentage.

In virtually every aspect, he has improved on what was a monumental MVP season last year. This shows up in advanced stats, where across the board he is putting up historically great numbers, including ranking first in PER, second in Defensive Rating, first in Defensive Win Shares, second in Win Shares, second in Box Plus/Minus, and second in VORP. Like last year, he should be a frontrunner for both Defensive Player of the Year and MVP.

The performance against the Jazz was a bit of everything in 38 minutes. Somehow though, with Giannis, there always seems to be more.