Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to amaze fans across the NBA with his dominant play and his ability to get better every time he steps out on the basketball court. His rise has been well-documented, from being a mid-first-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft to becoming a role player and eventual superstar.
This year, Antetokounmpo, whose pre-draft scouting report didn’t recognize his potential, might be having his best year as a professional, and the NBA might be frightened because of this. One stat, above all else, tells just how dominant Antetokounmpo has been during his season.
How good is Giannis Antetokounmpo?
Antetokounmpo is 6-foot-11 and can play any position on the court. Starting as a role player who scored just 6.8 points per game as a rookie, he has increased this output every year since he came into the NBA. Not only that, but his game has continued stretching elsewhere. His 10.6 rebounds per game to continue a streak of growth that dates back to his rookie year, and he is now one of the best defenders, too.
It is hard to find flaws in Antetokounmpo’s game, especially when those you find might soon disappear after an offseason of training. His tenure under Milwaukee Bucks current head coach Mike Budenholzer has sparked a level of play that Antetokounmpo never achieved under his former coaches. At just 25 years of age, his best years might still be ahead of him, and he might be a contender for another MVP Award this year.
Antetokounmpo can score like a superstar at (30 points per game), pass like a point guard (5.6 assists), rebound like a center (10.6), play award-caliber defense, and, as of this year, shoot the three with a semi-decent percentage behind it. All of these stats are impressive, but one is more impressive than any number he puts up on the bench.
What’s Giannis’ most impressive stat?
Antetokounmpo is having his best season yet while averaging the lowest amount of minutes played, 30.6, since he was a rookie. Even the 20-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, who spent part of the season coming off of the bench, played more than him, and Antetokounmpo is putting up numbers most couldn’t put up in 38-40 minutes per game.
What’s truly frightening is that Antetokounmpo is putting up superstar numbers while playing similar minutes to some bench players. If the Bucks were in close games every night, his minutes would likely be up. With nearly every night being a decisive win, Antetokounmpo benefits from in-game load management.
While stats like Per 36 Minutes sometimes deflate superstar statistics, Antetokounmpo’s numbers all increase. Antetokounmpo’s minutes do not even put him in the top 50 for the NBA when the league’s top spots are filled with big-name players. He couldn’t do this, however, without some help from the Bucks’ bench.
One strength that separates Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks
The Bucks have an underlying advantage over almost every other team in the NBA — their ability to thrive when Antetokounmpo leaves the game. The Los Angeles Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the team’s depth doesn’t help when they are off the court. The 76ers are struggling even when their starters are out there. The Bucks, however, can win nearly every game in blowout fashion.
By allowing the ever-improving Antetokounmpo to preserve his body on a game-to-game basis, the Bucks are getting insurance that he will not tire out come playoff time. In an Eastern Conference that is up for grabs, being healthy in the playoffs while others are tiring out could be essential.
The Bucks’ preservation of Antetokounmpo is a luxury. Most teams with a superstar cannot afford to do such a thing. When Antetokounmpo crosses their path in April, June, or May, however, they very well could see exactly why it is important to preserve one’s body as Antetokounmpo refuses to break down against them.