The prevailing thought around the NBA is that Antetokounmpo will overtake LeBron James as the best basketball player in the world once he develops a consistent outside game.
However, despite being a tireless worker, Antetokounmpo may not have what it takes to become a dependable 3-pointer shooter for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has taken the NBA by storm with no jumper
The Bucks drafted Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft. During his rookie season in 2013-14, Antetokounmpo only played 24.6 minutes per game and averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds.
However, ever since his rookie season ended, Antetokounmpo has taken the NBA by storm despite not having a jumper in his game.
The Greek Freak could retire from basketball today and still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Antetokounmpo is a four-time All-Star and one of the most dominant post players in NBA history. He won the 2016-17 Most Improved Player of the Year Award, the 2019-20 Defensive Player of the Year Award and the MVP Award in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
In 528 career games with the Bucks, Antetokounmpo has averages of 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists. By winning DPOY and MVP in the same season in 2019-20, he became the third player in NBA history to win both awards in one campaign, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.
When your name is on a list with Jordan and Olajuwon, you are doing something right with your basketball career.
Antetokounmpo’s hard work on 3-point shot hasn’t paid off and it likely never will
To his credit, Antetokounmpo has worked very hard to improve his jump shot. Every offseason, the Bucks’ franchise player plants himself in the gym and takes hundreds of shots from the free-throw line, the mid-range and beyond the 3-point line.
However, Antetokounmpo is only a career 72.2% shooter from the free-throw line and he’s even airballed a few shots from the charity stripe in recent years. Things are even worse for the All-NBA performer beyond the arc, as Antetokounmpo is hitting only 28.4% of his shots from distance.
While Antetokounmpo has no fear in shooting 3-pointers unlike Philadelphia 76ers point-forward Ben Simmons, the Bucks’ do-it-all swingman is letting defenses off the hook every time he shoots from beyond the 3-point line. Defenses will gladly let Antetokounmpo shoot jumpers because they know he’s a below-average shooter and not a monster in that area like he is in the post.
Instead of trying to become a 3-point threat, Antetokounmpo should take a page out of Kobe Bryant and Kawhi Leonard’s book and master the art of the mid-range shot. After all, Bryant was able to win five championships by destroying his opponents from the mid-range, while Leonard has two rings on his résumé thanks to his mid-range proficiency.
Bucks won’t win a title if he focuses too much on his 3-point shot
For the Bucks to win a championship in the Antetokounmpo era, the two-time MVP can’t be airballing shots from beyond the 3-point line.
When defenses sag off Antetokounmpo and pack the paint against him, he needs to confidently step into his jump shot and take a mid-range jumper. The Bucks star can’t listen to the analytics critics who claim mid-range shots are bad for basketball.
If they were, Jordan, Bryant and Leonard wouldn’t have had success in the NBA.
After signing the supermax extension with the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo has the financial security he needs for himself and his family, which is important considering we are still living in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moving forward, the future Hall of Famer needs to focus on improving his mid-range jumper instead of his 3-point shot to get the Bucks over the hump in the playoffs.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference