There’s a fun thing going on with the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that was supposed to be a spunky upstart but has unfortunately been a big-ass bummer. All those losses have put head coach Jason Kidd in a situation where he can tinker and experiment with the team, and he’s taken advantage of that by putting Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard.
Antetokounmpo, all 6-foot-11 of him, has been running the Bucks’ offense for about two weeks now. On Feb. 22, he recorded his first career triple-double against the Lakers, going for 27-10-12 in 42 minutes. He’s gotten two more triple-doubles since that game—he had 18-11-16 against the Rockets and 26-10-12 against the Thunder—and has averaged just under nine assist per game since that first triple-double.
This is pretty crazy. Antetokounmpo’s been a combo forward throughout his young career, but now suddenly he’s running the point, and he’s doing it very well. The Bucks have scored 101.9 points per 100 possessions this season, but in the last eight games with Antetokounmpo at the point, that number has bumped up to 105.4. Putting Antetokounmpo at point guard has also done wonders for Jabari Parker, who’s been scoring 20 points per game over the last eight. He’s received 18 passes per game from Antetokounmpo in those contests, a significant bump up from the 12 passes per game he was getting from previous point guard Michael Carter Williams (stats via NBA.com).
It’s easy to see why Antetokounmpo at the 1 is such a problem for other teams. Take this clip from his demolition of the Rockets:
After bringing the ball into the front court, Antetokounmpo finds himself (hilariously) guarded by Ty Lawson. He immediately drags him into the post to take advantage of the size disparity, forcing Dwight Howard to come and double. Now, if Antetokounmpo were a normal 6-foot-11 goober, the play may have stalled at that point, but the Greek Freak shifts into Point Giannis mode and rips a perfect pass to a cutting Jabari Parker, who finishes with the easy dunk. There’s really not much a defense can do against a point guard with that combination of size and vision.
Who knows if Antetokounmpo taking on the role of primary playmaker is just a short-term experiment or a long-term fix, but Bucks fans should feel great about it either way. As we wrote back in January, the sad thing about this Bucks squad is that despite having a collection of talented young players, they just don’t seem to fit together. But when one player continues to evolve at a rapid rate and demonstrates that he can occupy any spot in the lineup, it becomes a lot easier to find the right place for everyone else.