Giannis Antetokounmpo has been one of the best players in the entire game the past two seasons. The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of the best teams too. However, in the playoffs the past two years, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have struggled. They fell behind 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Miami Heat recently, and after Game 2, former NBA star Richard Jefferson took a shot at Antetokounmpo — kind of.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have struggled in the playoffs
The past two seasons, Antetokounmpo has been absolutely incredible. In 2018-19, Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points per game, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. The Milwaukee Bucks were an excellent team, too, as they had the NBA’s best record at 60-22. His play also led to him winning the league’s MVP award.
Antetokounmpo ended up playing well in the playoffs overall, averaging 25.5 points and 12.3 rebounds, but the Bucks lost to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2. Additionally, in that series, Antetokounmpo actually struggled as he averaged 22.7 points per game and shot 44.8%.
In 2019-20, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks were even better. He averaged 29.5 points per game, 13.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists in the regular season, and the Bucks — in a shortened season due to COVID-19 — went 56-17, which was the best record in the NBA yet again. Antetokounmpo is the front-runner for the league MVP award again, and he recently won the Defensive Player of the Year award.
However, so far in the playoffs, after winning 4-1 over the Orlando Magic in the First Round, the Bucks have fallen behind 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Miami Heat. Antetokounmpo only scored 18 points and shot 4-of-12 at the free-throw line in Game 1 of the series. In Game 2, Antetokounmpo scored 29 points but missed two free throws with 43 seconds left.
Richard Jefferson took a shot at Antetokounmpo — kind of
Richard Jefferson had a solid NBA career. He had seasons where he scored a lot (he averaged 22.6 points per game in 2007-08 for the New Jersey Nets), and he had seasons where he was an important role player (he helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2015-16 NBA championship).
Now he has become a personality, appearing on ESPN at times and hosting his podcast, Road Trippin’.
Jefferson recently took to Twitter after the Bucks lost to the Heat in Game 2, and he said this about Antetokounmpo.
“Giannis might be a Pippen,” Jefferson tweeted. “There I said it! He needs his Jordan.”
Obviously, no one has tried to say that Antetokounmpo is a Michael Jordan-level player. However, many people think that he can be the best player on a championship team. Scottie Pippen wasn’t that, though, as he was the second-best player, behind Jordan, when the Bulls won championships.
So, should Antetokounmpo feel disrespected by Jefferson’s take?
Scottie Pippen was still a legendary player
If Antetokounmpo is striving to be a Michael Jordan-type player, or just one of the best players of all-time, he should certainly feel disrespected.
However, comparing Antetokounmpo to a Hall of Famer in Pippen is definitely not a diss.
Pippen was a seven-time All-Star and had some spectacular seasons were he averaged between 18.6 and 22 points per game between 1991-92 through 1997-98. He was also a great defender as he earned All-Defensive Team honors 10 times, and he led the NBA in steals per game in 1994-95.
No, Pippen never put up as great of numbers as Antetokounmpo has the past two seasons, but he played with Michael Jordan. It’s hard to put up out-of-this-world numbers when you’re playing with another out-of-this-world player.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been an incredible player and one of the best players in the entire NBA. If he ends up teaming up with another player that can be his Michael Jordan, that team would be completely unstoppable.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference