Giannis and Jabari already have a better feel for playing alongside one another than Melo and Amare did, but they still fall into some of the same issues. Both young Bucks like to attack by posting up off the block, facing up, and driving by their man to the rim. Neither is prolific with their outside shot, Jabari could be on his way, but as of right now they both need the ball in their hands, going towards the rim, to be effective. It’s hard for them to play on the same side of the floor in a half court set. If Jabari has the ball on the block, with Giannis spotting up in the corner, Giannis’ man will help off him clogging up Jabari’s work space.
Jason Kidd did spend the 2012-2013 season with the Amare-Melo Knicks, helping them to a 54-win season. Amare was out for most of the season, but played enough to give Coach Kidd some experience in this situation. It has taken some thought on the coaching staff’s part and cooperation from the young stars to get them to play effective basketball together. For instance, since their games are so similar that they must play on opposite sides of the floor, they need to take advantages of openings caused by help defense. They’re both very aggressive to make a cut to the rim if the other is backing his man down. They’ve been taught to set up shop at the short corner on the other side of the lane as an outlet to his teammate. Both young players are very willing to give it up if they draw the help defender, leaving their teammate in a one on one situation with the center too far away to help.
By keeping Giannis and Jabari on the opposite sides of the floor, the offense is provided with a natural balance. The goal of the offense is to get either Giannis or Jabari the ball in an isolation situation on the wing or down on the block. If Jabari gets the ball and attacks the basket, Giannis will cut to provide a potential drop off, while the center will look to find the opening in the defense for a quick hook shot. If there’s nothing there Jabari will reverse the ball to someone on the perimeter. Giannis will then rotate back to the wing looking for his own isolation opportunity, waiting for the ball reversal, and we have the same set we had earlier in the shot clock just slid to the opposite side to leave Giannis space to attack. Our guards just need to spot up and be ready to rotate the ball if they don’t have the open look. The team seems to fully understand their roles on the offensive end this season, rarely looking frazzled and out of place. A lot of that stems from knowing that everything flows through the two work horses.
Most two man duos use an inside outside approach to getting each other the ball in a situation to score, the ole drive and kick theory, but swinging towards the ball for an outside look just isn’t effective enough for these two, yet. One way they’ve countered the kick out for a shot is by trailing in transition. Say Giannis gets a rebound and pushes the ball up the floor, Jabari will time it out to start his sprint towards the basket right before Giannis finds himself in need of finding a teammate, so Jabari will get the ball heading towards the basket, already at full speed. Both players are very difficult to slow down with built up momentum.
On defense, Jabari looks to Giannis to clean up for his limitations. To Jabari’s credit, he does work hard on that end of the floor and has learned how to play the cross court pass well. The Bucks have taken Jabari away from the post as much as they can, instead having Giannis match up with their power forward. This limits Jabari’s assignments on that end, allowing him to close out on shooters and play passing lanes, which fits his skill set better than pick and roll defense. It also gives him an easier rebounding assignment, he can gauge his opponents interest in the rebound and dive into the lane providing the Bucks an extra body to tip the ball to an open space on the floor. When Giannis was guarding on the wing, he couldn’t always leave his man to dive in for the rebound, leaving Jabari in a really difficult situation, especially coming off his knee injury.
Playing Giannis against the opposing four also gives Giannis far more opportunities to make his presence felt around the rim. When Giannis was guarding predominantly wings, he was too far away from the basket to be able to recover in time, but now he spends much more time roaming just a stride or two from the rim. Opposing teams should keep him in mind every time they’re driving to the rim, he might tip a cross court pass for the steal, change the shot in mid-air, or chase block a layup attempt into a fast break opportunity. The change in philosophy has put Giannis in talks for an All-Defensive Team selection at year’s end, as he’s averaging 2.1 steals and 2 blocks per game.
In terms of Chemistry, Jabari and Giannis both speak very highly of each other to the media, and seem to share a similar need to win games. Things bode well for them creating a nice working relationship. The need to win is a great thing to bond over, it could provide them that classic us and against everybody mentality that has you sending the dude a happy birthday text down the line, some extended family shit. As if the Milwaukee Bucks weren’t lucky enough by just having two young stars, both players seem to know it’s in their best interest to play alongside one another, as they don’t hesitate to share the ball at all. Kobe and Shaq didn’t get along, Jabari and Giannis do. No fight for the franchise between these two.