In one of the songs on pop superstar Taylor Swift’s Grammy-nominated 2012 album Red, she belts out “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.” Just like T-Swift was then, so too is budding Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, and for him, 22 feels pretty darn sweet. That’s because Giannis is having a truly one-of-a-kind season.
The following are the Greek Freak’s averages for the five major categories as well as his WS (Win Shares), VORP (Value over Replacement Player) and Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in 2016-17:
23.2 PPG (18th in NBA), 8.6 RPG (18th), 5.4 APG (T-22nd), 1.7 SPG (11th), 1.9 BPG (5th), 8.9 WS (10th), 5.2 VORP (4th), 26.3 PER (10th)
While these rankings are impressive, what is particularly striking is how these rankings stack up and compare to the rest of the NBA. Giannis is the only player in the NBA who ranks in the top 25 in each of these stats. On top of that, Giannis sits just 3 assists behind Kemba Walker, who is currently in 20th in the NBA in assists with 314 compared to Giannis’ 311.
To put that into perspective, only 3 other players in the history of the NBA have finished in the top 25 in the five major statistical categories: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973-74, Kevin Garnett (4 times), and LeBron James in 2008-09. However, if Giannis is able to keep his pace while getting into the top 20 in assists, he will be the first player in NBA history to finish in the top 20 in all five categories in a season.
Now, how historically significant is Giannis’ year? First, we must look at seasons of players 22 and under to compare, as Giannis’ stats have not been replicated by anyone in any season in which they were 22 years old as of February 1st. If Giannis were averaging as low as 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal per game, there would still only be 35 instances in which a player has averaged that in a season. This includes seasons by superstars and legends such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.
On Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets, Antetokounmpo tallied 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks in a 110-98 losing effort. This stat line gave Giannis a total of 501 rebounds, 101 steals and 113 blocks on the season, making him just the second players in Bucks history to record 500 rebounds with 100 steals and blocks in a single season (Kareem being the other in 1973-74). While this is the 131st time that an NBA player has done so in a season, a couple of things stand out. For starters, Giannis is one of only 12 players to achieve this at age 22 or under. Even more impressively, though, is the fact that he, along with Hakeem Olajuwon in 1990-91, are the only two players in NBA history to reach those marks in less than 60 games. To put that in perspective, Hakeem was 28 at the time.
Looking at Giannis’ 2016-17 season, it is also important to compare it to other prominent Bucks seasons. Looking at the same stats listed before, but comparing it to all Bucks’ seasons, Giannis ranks as follows:
11th in PPG, 19th in RPG, 18th in APG, 8th in SPG, 7th in BPG (his 2015-16 season ranks 8th), 34th in WS, 8th in VORP, 5th in PER
This season, he also became the first Milwaukee player since Michael Redd to become an All-Star, and the first All-Star starter for the team since 1986 (Sidney Moncrief; scored 16 points). Giannis’ 30 points that he scored in New Orleans is also the highest point total by a Bucks All-Star, as he led the East in scoring in a 192-182 defeat.
So, who does Giannis most compare to? Well, looking at his per game stats from his rookie season to this year (aka his age 19-22 seasons) and comparing them, Giannis is in some pretty exclusive company:
19: Melo, LeBron, Tracy McGrady, Luol Deng, Andrew Wiggins
20: LeBron, Magic Johnson, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, Lamar Odom, Antoine Walker
21: Alvan Adams, Odom, Magic, Webber
22: Oscar Robertson
Combined, the above players have 80 All-Star game selections, 8 MVP awards, 35 All-NBA First Team honors and 13 NBA championships. Great company, indeed.
So yes, 22 has felt pretty good for the Greek Freak, but here’s to hoping that 23 and beyond are as good or even better. If so, we may just see Giannis in the rafters of the TBD Arena in the future.