Welcome to the Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations! Similar to last year’s series, we’ll take a look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what do they do that helps (Boon), what do they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).
Not much needs to be said about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s season that hasn’t already been said. He won his second consecutive MVP award. He won defensive player of the year. He was first team All-NBA and first team all-defense. He was phenomenal across every counting stat category and he led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA for the second year in a row. It was a virtuoso performance...until it wasn’t, at least against the Miami Heat in Games 1-3.
Giannis’s Boon: Interior Scoring
Giannis dominated the inside like no big man since Shaquille O’Neal. He led the league in points in the paint for the third year in a row, and had 17.5 points there per game this year. He shot 74.2% (!) on 10.3 attempts per game in the restricted area. He was a titan, impossible to swat away or deter once he got down to his spots. The creativity with which he did it is unparalleled too. His range of motion for a massive man is impossible to conceive of, as he contorts, twists, dribbles and bullies his way through all different type of opponents. It remains his most unstoppable skill; so much so there are times I wish he would even utilize it more. We all saw him talk about getting #ThroughTheWall...but here’s hoping Bud finds more way for him to get #AroundTheWall.
Giannis’s Bane: The Wall
Miami, like Toronto before them, presented Giannis with the same slew of wing defenders and helping big men capable of cutting off his driving lanes, stopping him from plowing through and generally gumming up his offensive flow. Without it, the Bucks offense sputtered while its engine struggled to get moving. It’s not just that The Wall deters his driving, it also seems to interrupt his passing ability.
Too often he would start to barrel into the lane, but instead of trying to quickly dish to someone while the opponents eyes were focused on him, the defender would strip him and get themselves an easy bucket in transition. Now, clearly the Heat’s defense was no fluke given how much trouble they also gave the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, but we’ve seen the same tactic two years in a row neuter the league’s MVP. At some point, Giannis, with Bud’s help, needs to solve the wall.
Does Giannis Belong?
Need I say more?