You’ve heard it a million times, “If Giannis gets a jumper he will be unstoppable.” The words may change slightly, but the sentiment remains the same: Giannis with a better jump shot becomes the next level of player. Yet he has gotten better every year, without having a jump shot. People continue to say that as soon as he gets it he will be unstoppable, but I must have missed something because in the season opener against the Celtics, they had no answer for him as he scored 37 (with 16 coming in the fourth quarter alone). People keep perpetuating this myth that Giannis needs a jumper to be a top five player or he needs a jumper to be in the hall. If you play off him, he does not care, he will take it to the rim and the majority of the time he will score or get fouled. Open your eyes, he is dominant without a jump shot.
No one is arguing he would be worse off for having one, because there will always be moments where a 3 is better than a 2, but people talk about it ad nauseam as if it this is some necessary hurdle he must clear. It is not, he was phenomenal last year putting up his bonkers stat line of 23 points 9 rebounds and 5 assists a game, not to mention the plethora of blocks of steals he also recorded. He also was able to do that while posting a 59.9% true shooting, which is supposed to help offset the difference between guys who take a lot of 3s and guys who score exclusively at the rim. If Wednesday night was any evidence he might be even better this year, last year he scored more than 35 points just two times. Every year people seem to pin Giannis getting better on the progress he has made with his jump shot, I am out here wondering why anyone doubts him anymore.
Giannis continues to get better and the jump shot will never be a focal point of his game, everyone wants to compare him to Kevin Durant because of their similar body types when in reality Giannis plays like some Westbrook / Shaq hybrid using his athleticism to power to the rim. Giannis’s “secret” to being super efficient: getting to the free throw line and making the free throws. Last year his free throw rate was 48.9%, resulting in him making almost 6 free throws a game. Despite not being a great (or even average) jump shooter, Giannis was able to make 77% of his free throws, free throws made up a little over 25% of his scoring last season. Giannis makes a living taking the majority of his shots at the rim and converting on them, below is a chart comparing him to some of the other top forwards in the league. (As well as Russell Westbrook who I compared his game to above).
% of Shots at the rim versus FG% at the rim
|Player||% of FGAs 0-3 feet||FG% 0-3 Feet|
Source: Basketball Reference
This chart shows us just how special Giannis is in terms of both efficiency and volume at the rim, we see that Lebron and Durant were able to shoot a higher percentage (better teammates likely factor in), but the volume isn’t close at all. To match his efficiency on shots at the rim with shots from 3 he would have to shoot 46.7% from 3. No one is that good of a jump shooter to do that consistently, but Giannis has proven he can get to the rim more consistently than just about any perimeter player in the league.
This all doesn’t begin to get into the fact that unlike some “top 10” players he is an elite defender in addition to his talent on offense. His stocks (blocks + steals) per game is unmatched and he thrives in the transition opportunities he gets off of them. To focus on jump shooting (which is an incredibly valuable skill) misses out on the dozens of other basketball skills Giannis is freakishly good at. The little things like lurking in passing la
nes, setting screens, cutting, rim protection, transition passing that Giannis is elite at and the box score misses on. When you hyper-focus shooting like so many people seem to be doing with Giannis, you overlook the greatness that unfolding in front of your eyes. He is taking over the league dominated by three point shooting without being even a below average shooter.
His insane efficiency without a jumper is truly one of a kind and people should start appreciating him for what he is, rather than what he is not. Giannis is one of the best talents in the NBA and he doesn’t have a jump shot and that is okay. Even though the league puts such an emphasis on jump shooting, we have seen people the last few years have insane impact without being great shooters: Gobert, Draymond, and Westbrook. Even though the latter two of had years where they are decent shooters it has never been for an extended period of time. So next time you feel like tweeting imagine if Giannis had a jump shot set down your phone and watch the game, he is the Greek Freak and he is running this league without a jumper.