On Sunday, October 29th, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo forever etched his name in the Milwaukee Bucks record book against the Atlanta Hawks.
Giannis scored 33 points which brought his total points through 6 games to 208. This broke former Bucks superstar and current broadcaster Marques Johnson’s record of 198 points in the 1978-79 season. Antetokounmpo also shattered Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 194 points in 1970-71, the year the Bucks won their lone NBA title. He is also only the 11th player since 1963 to score 200+ points in the first 6 games of the season. He joins the likes of Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O’Neal, Rick Barry and Kobe Bryant.
Giannis has scored 208 points through 6 games, joining a short, elite group of players to accomplish this feat. In the last 35 years, only 2 other players have done so. Michael Jordan did it 4 times throughout his career, and Warriors dead-eye shooter Stephen Curry scored 213 points in 6 games in 2016. This is a big deal.
Through the first 6 games, we saw Giannis put up tremendous lines at ease. He started off the season with 37 points against Boston, including 16 fourth-quarter points. He dropped 34 points in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his much-anticipated matchup versus LeBron James. Then in the third game, Giannis upped the ante by scoring 44 points to help defeat the Portland Trail Blazers in what was his best game in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform to date. Then in the 4th game of the season, he scored an easy 32 versus the Hornets to help secure a win. Antetokounmpo followed that performance up with 28 points against the Boston Celtics in a loss. He finally broke the record with 33 points against the Atlanta Hawks as they cruised to their 4th victory in 6 games.
The Milwaukee Bucks are at their best when they get out in transition for fast breaks, which the Greek Freak excels at. With Giannis’ 7’4″ wingspan and lethal “gyro step,” he has been getting to the rim at will this season. He is so hard to defend not only because he is 6’11” with a wingspan of an airplane, but he handles the ball like a point guard. When Giannis comes down the court at full speed with the basketball, he’s impossible to stop without committing a foul.
His court vision this season is much improved, and his ability to see over the defense is second to none. He’s constantly surveying the court and willing to pass up a good shot for an even better look for one of his teammates. What stands out the most is how effective he is when he goes baseline. When Giannis drives on the baseline he has the luxury of using his wiry frame to kick it out to an open shooter on the perimeter, or go up to the rim for a thunderous slam dunk.
The Greek Freak is the first player since Karl Malone to score 28+ points per game in 7 straight games to open up the season. Malone accomplished this feat in the 1992-93 NBA season. Again, Giannis finds himself on another record-breaking statistic list. The other player to accomplish this? Michael Jordan did it twice, first in 1986-87, then in 1988-89. Antetokounmpo is also the 5th player since 1983 to average 30 points and 10 rebounds to begin the season. He joins the likes of Anthony Davis, Shaquille O’Neal (2x), Karl Malone (2x) and the great David Robinson. It seems like every game Giannis joins an elite group of company.
What’s most impressive about this historic start is how easy Giannis is scoring the basketball. He is currently averaging a whopping 23.67 points in the paint while shooting a remarkable 77.8% from less than 5 feet from the basket. His overall field goal percentage sits at an impressive 63.2%, and his effective field goal percentage is a whopping 65.3% on 20 shots attempted per contest. No one has ever broken an eFG of 65% on more than 15 shots per game. The closest was the great Wilt Chamberlain in 1966 with Philadelphia when he had an eFG% of 68.3% on 14.2 shots per game. The Greek Freak is playing like an NBA 2K created player with the sliders all the way up.
Another very impressive footnote is how Giannis is taking over 4th quarters. He is averaging a wholesome 11 points per final quarter this season. His will to win is something Milwaukee has never seen before, he leaves it all out on the floor every game. He is more composed when the game is on the line, unlike previous seasons where he would get flustered and force things. The game is slowing down for him, which is a scary thought for the rest of the NBA.
His usage rating is way up this year, currently sitting at 33.6 which ranks him as 5th highest in the NBA in this category. It’s no secret, when Giannis is on the floor the Bucks are a far more superior team than when he is off the court. He currently leads the league in minutes played at 36.8 because the Bucks simply cannot afford him to be resting for an extended period of time. The absence of Bucks forward Jabari Parker certainly hasn’t helped, as he now has to shoulder the offensive load practically every game.
This season Giannis is putting up a ridiculous offensive rating (ORtg) of 111.6, and a solid defensive rating (DRtg) of 104.4. When he subs out of the game, the ORtg plummets to 105.1. When he is on the bench, the offense has far less ball movement and it is very stagnant.
Defensively, the Bucks are a mess without Antetokounmpo on the floor. They give up an ORtg of 116.1 when he is on the bench. However, when Giannis is on the court, their opponents ORtg evens out to an okay 107.3. Needless to say, the Bucks cannot afford to have him on the bench for long, or things go south for the Bucks very fast.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is such a unique player on both sides of the basketball. He dominates the paint like Shaq in his prime and plays defense like a young Sydney Moncrief. He has already proven that he does not need a jump shot to dominate the NBA. Ladies and gentleman, Giannis Antetokounmpo has it all.