What the Bucks and Giannis need to improve
By Jamie Wianecki
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If you are a League Passer and have watched the Bucks with the opposing team’s commentary team or listen to the National Broadcast, you’ve most definitely heard either the play-by-play commentator or color analyst say, “If Giannis develops a three point jumper then blank super hyperbolic scenario…” But I don’t think that is the only or even the best path for both Giannis and the Bucks to be rule the NBA or even be a better team.
Giannis is having his best statistical season in virtually every category. See these per game, per 100 possessions and advanced stats from Basketball-reference.com
Giannis’s numbers are very impressive. He is scoring almost 30 points per game (29.9, second in the NBA after James Harden) mostly on points in the paint and free throws. Per 100 possessions he’s having his best offensive year and second best defensive year, both of which are really good. And the Bucks are 16-13 through 29 games, holding the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Where they are going wrong, in many people’s eyes it’s their defense--which is slightly below average (20th in defensive efficiency). In addition to defense, they are struggling to rebound. They are ranked 26th in rebound percentage. That’s mostly due to the Bucks having super skinny post players, Thon Maker who can’t buy alcohol yet and John Henson who isn’t the problem, but can’t do it all.
Giannis doesn’t need to develop a 3 point jumper if he can score 30 points per game with a 61% true shooting percentage. His development needs to be his passing. When he is triple teamed, he needs to find the open shooter instead of a going in for an ultra contested shot. In the highlight below, Giannis missed a layup in transition with a couple players open for three, including Tony Snell.
We might lose a couple highlights for the season, but not only will the Bucks get more open threes, but it will also involve other role players as well. Currently, Tony Snell has the highest points per shot on the team. With Giannis growing more as a passer, the Bucks need to surround him with three point shooters. Middleton, Brogdon and Snell are all above average. In addition to them, Thon needs to develop. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to see Mirza Teletovic with Eric Bledsoe on the court together, Bledsoe would be getting Telly a bunch of good looks. Tony Snell is the main player who needs to be more involved on the offensive end. Snell is having by far his best offensive season. His per 100 possessions offensive rating (ORtg) is 127. Prior to this season, his best was last season with a 114 ORtg. His offensive box plus minus (OBPM) is 1.4, which is by far his best as well (ORtg and OBPM via basketball-reference.com). In context to the rest of the Bucks, he is tied with Mirza with the most points per shot (PPS) on the team, 1.34 PPS and has the highest points per possession with 1.41 PPP. (via nbawowy.com).
I’d like to see more of this from Giannis. He took the ball to the paint, 2 Kings defenders collapsed, he kicked it to Bledsoe who swung it to the corner to a wide open Snell who hit the three.
Giannis becoming a better and more willing passer will be a win-win for both the Bucks and Giannis. Kicking it out more often to open 3-point shooters will not only add more assists to Giannis’s statsheet, but also not affect his points because the more often other players hit those shots, the less often teams can afford to collapse in the paint on a Giannis drive.