"When Giannis develops his jump shot..."
That phrase has been a frequent caveat to discussions of Giannis Antetokounmpo's potential stardom, though it's increasingly looking less like a hypothetical and more like everyday reality. That was certainly the case in Atlanta on Monday night, as he hit 7/9 shots overall and 6/7 outside the paint in the Bucks' 101-88 loss. Watch the video clip above and you'll see Giannis converting off the dribble, spotting up, and fading away in the post...outside of a three-point shot, it's essentially all the types of shots he'll need in his arsenal to be really, really, really good.
Not that this is an entirely new phenomenon either. Though he's still not looking for shots outside the arc, Giannis has looked increasingly confident from midrange over the past few months, and even his full-season numbers are starting to look rather impressive. His overall midrange accuracy has bumped up to a promising 40% for the season, and in calendar year 2015 Giannis has converted 45% of his shots from midrange (52/115), including 52% from 10-14 feet and 49% from 15-19 feet. Note: That's damn good by anyone's standards. Interestingly, he's been an above-average mid-range shooter and only average in the paint since January (see chart below), though his overall scoring efficiency has remained strong, including 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on 52% shooting in March.
As the chart above shows, he's been most deadly from the top of the key, underscoring the notion that his best usage is probably as a pick-and-pop power forward. He's increasingly showing he can hurt teams on catch-and-shoot plays, and if they switch the P&R he can take advantage of mismatches as well. We started to see that action more regularly with Giannis and Brandon Knight before the all-star break, though it seems like we've seen it less since then.
Still, that may be less a result of the Bucks' swap of point guards and more related to the fact that Ersan Ilyasova has also replaced Jared Dudley as the Bucks' other forward next to Giannis. Though they can both shoot from deep, Dudley is a lower usage player who takes more than three times as many corner threes as Ilyasova, who does most of his work from the middle -- ie the same place Giannis has been excelling. We saw that issue a number of times in Atlanta on Monday, though the Bucks tried to balance things out as the game went on. For the first three quarters Giannis' plays were largely initiated from the wings and corners until the fourth quarter, when the Bucks ran four straight iso plays from the top for him against Kyle Korver. He drew two fouls, scored a layup and created an open corner look for Jerryd Bayless, reminding us how difficult he is to handle one-on-one.
For Antetokounmpo, it's all part of the long-range goal of becoming a complete player. As Charles Gardner reports, Kidd has given Giannis the green light to shoot from midrange and even corner threes, with the hope that he'll develop consistent three point range over the next couple seasons.
"The first year I made like five mid-range jumpers. This year I'm making more. Next year I'll be more efficient in the mid-range jumper and try to work on the threes. And the fourth year try to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together."
(h/t to CanadaBucks for pointing me towards Charles Gardner's piece!)