Every so often, it’s nice to be reminded of how good the Milwaukee Bucks have it. They have to work for everything they’ve achieved, and will have to keep working to keep the team at the lofty position they think they deserve to hold in the NBA…but having a super-duper-star like Giannis Antetokounmpo makes the tall task a bit easier.
Congrats to Giannis who has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week!! pic.twitter.com/AoMD3txhkT— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 22, 2021
For any Bucks fans who need a reminder, Milwaukee’s start to their title defense has gotten off to a rocky start. Hovering around 0.500 for much of the young season, the Bucks have been missing Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo for almost the entire time, while also weathering lengthy absences from Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. The Bucks are still a talented team and are well-organized, but any squad missing so many key contributors is destined to struggle.
Enter Giannis. The do-it-all forward has made it clear that he cares little for accolades (especially those as frequently-awarded as “Conference Player Of The Week”) but there’s no denying how much he earned the designation this time around. He’s been playing every position during the time his teammates have missed, including the heavy load that is center in the NBA. But he didn’t complain, he just buckled down and found a way to lead the team to success, and his statistical marks inflated as a result.
His impact on Bobby Portis lineups is especially notable: Giannis/Bobby lineups are +116 ORT/102 DRTG and have rebounded exceptionally well. Without Giannis, Portis lineups are at 96 ORT/119 DRTG despite opponents shooting only 32% on threes (74% at the rim!).— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) November 22, 2021
Giannis is crucial to the Bucks, but even the organization would admit that they don’t want him doing this much, this often. Giannis-at-C lineups have historically been great, but is a medicine best administered in small doses. Game after game after game, things get harder as players start to wear down, making Brook Lopez’s eventual return even more anticipated.
Good news for Bucks center Brook Lopez, who's been out since opening night Oct. 19: He is progressing toward a comeback for the reigning champions and says he has a target return in mind. More: pic.twitter.com/un4sf0XVW2— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 19, 2021
The silver lining here? Giannis has somehow gotten even better as an NBA player, with repeated reps outside of his normal role, and a continued dedication to letting it fly (even if his overall percentages are unchanged, his three-point shot just looks better) while also developing chemistry with his teammates. With his 27th birthday coming up, Giannis is in the prime of his athletic life, and sometimes it’s good to recognize that we’re witness to something truly special.