Giannis Antetokounmpo makes the game of basketball look effortless. His ridiculous length combined with point guard handles enable him to dominate on both ends of the floor and in all columns of the stat sheet. Since his rookie year, he’s increased his statistics in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks per game each – yet he’s only 22.
But how good is the Greek Freak compared with the most complete players in the game today? How good can Antetokounmpo be? Before you answer and we dive in, check out some highlights below from the first three games of this season. It may be a small sample size, but it should help explain the hype.
Bona fide superstar?
Antetokounmpo has to be in the conversation regarding superstar status. Last season he won Most Improved Player, played in his first All-Star game, and made the All-NBA Second Team and All-NBA Defensive Second Team. But he's no one-season wonder.
In the Milwaukee Bucks' opening four games of this campaign, he's already notched up 147 points, 43 rebounds and 21 assists. No player has ever posted that kind of start to the season. He is undoubtedly one of the best players in the league and from his highlights above, you can see how exciting he is to watch.
One distinction commonly overlooked with young players is the difference in just putting up big numbers that look good and winning basketball games. And though teammates and coaches play a role, few are genuinely clutch. Take Anthony Davis and Karl Anthony-Towns as examples. Both players record numbers that shout franchise star, yet that hasn't translated into success for their respective teams. Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, has led his team to the playoffs in two of the last three years and has spearheaded the Bucks' rise.
Apart from Russell Westbrook, who won MVP on the back of a historic triple-double season, all the MVPs in the last decade have reached the conference finals. For Antetokounmpo to compete for the accolade, the Bucks will need to make inroads.
Last season, the Bucks were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, getting knocked out in the first round by the Raptors. This time around, they are well placed to improve on that mark. The East has opened up given the exodus of stars to the Western Conference, and the Bucks are primed to benefit in the the postseason. While the Cavaliers are still the clear powerhouse, the likes of the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards are within Milwaukee's sights.
The Bucks remain below these sides, but are definitely knocking on the door. Giannis will need the support of teammates such as Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton and a healthy Jabari Parker to push the Bucks higher. If the Bucks can become a top four seed by the end of the season, the MVP conversation will definitely include the Greek Feak.
Most complete player?
Kevin Durant recently said Giannis has the potential to be the greatest of all time. That's high praise from one of the NBA's best. Antetokounmpo has also drawn comparisons to LeBron James, underscoring his rise to stardom. Both players play at small forward while dabbling in point guard duties, and can play and guard multiple positions. Giannis is not on James' level yet but if he continues his road to dominance, the sky is the limit.
There is still work to do, no doubt. Antetokounmpo's jump shot and leadership need improvement before a place among the game's greats is confirmed. Even with Giannis' unbelievable length and ball handling ability, his offense remains one-dimensional. He'll drive to the basket almost every time. If he can develop a reliable 3-point shot as LeBron did, Antetokounmpo will be just as unstoppable in the half-court set.
The most complete players also make teammates better, sharing the ball effectively and motoring the team's will to win. Giannis is growing in leadership, but he must take that to the next level to be considered the most complete player in the league. If he can develop these aspects over the course of this season and it boosts the Bucks' winning record, the claims of greatness will be legitimate.
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