How Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Jumpshot Has Changed Since His NBA Debut in 2014

Published 08/02/2021, 11:36 AM EDT
Jul 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots against Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and guard Devin Booker (1) during the first half in game one of the 2021 NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports


Giannis Antetokounmpo will head into this offseason a pleased yet determined champion. Following his first NBA title, the Finals-MVP will go into next season as arguably the best player on the planet. It’s hardly been eight days since his title clinching virtuoso performance, but Antetokounmpo is all but done adding to a stellar resume.

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Giannis has come a long way in this league, following his debut in 2013. In what most recognize as a potential Hall of Fame career, Antetokounmpo is a 2x MVP, 1x DPoY, 1x MIP, 1x NBA Champion and F-MVP.

Jul 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) scores a basket against the Phoenix Suns during the first half in game one of the 2021 NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Greek Freak has always faced criticism over a disappearing jump shot over the years. But what many fail to grasp is that drawback becomes virtually irrelevant given his driving ability and defensive prowess.

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Off target – the Giannis Antetokounmpo shooting mystery

Giannis, revered for his athleticism along with his offensive and defensive prowess, has seen his shooting fade over the years. Whether it be his poor free throw percentage, or sub-par shooting range, Antetokounmpo is differently abled, compared to the modern NBA star.

But, the Greek Freak’s shot hasn’t always been this subpar. In what many suspect as the reason for a gradual decline over the seasons, coaching played a big role. Following a regime change with increased volume of post-play accompanied by a physical transformation, Giannis lost his jump shot along the way.

While he possessed a streaky 3-pt shot back in his rookie season, shooting at 34.5% from the 3, perhaps an intentional push towards post play from coaching personnel Jason Kidd in his early years brought about the change!

Second, Giannis has had his troubles with free throw shooting as well, especially with rival arenas counting down the clock in anticipation of a shot. But, despite being a sub-par FT shooter at 71.7% for his career, Antetokounmpo has never backed down from contact in the paint.

Despite such a poor record from long range and the line, the Greek Freak has a career +/- of over 1600!

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However, with all these struggles, he just averaged 28ppg/11rpg for the season, further elevating to 35.2ppg/13.2rpg in the 2021 Finals. Antetokounmpo also delivered when it mattered the most, as he shot 17-19 from the FT line in a 50 point Game 6 against Phoenix.

Generational Talent

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Having shrugged off his inability to score against teams who have built walls to counter him in previous postseasons, Giannis capitalized his post-play to dominate lead the Bucks to the promised land shooting at over 61.8% from the field.

Jun 5, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against Brooklyn Nets point guard Mike James (55) and point guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second quarter of game one in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In an era defined by perimeter play and 3 point shooting, a generational big man like Antetokounmpo is a rare find. At 6ft 9inches, the Greek Freak is almost like a freight train, with his signature posterizing dunks intimidating the opposition.

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And while many an expert have often drawn parallels between his game with the stars of yesteryear, it simply undermines his greatness. Where does he go from here, as he looks to channel his inner Mamba mentality to fuel a Bucks repeat in 2022?

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Nikhil Naik

170 articles

Nikhil Naik is an NBA writer at EssentialySports. Having completed his bachelor's degree in Hospitality, he has worked with the Indian Hotels Company Limited, at the Taj in Mumbai. Nikhil has been playing basketball since 2014.

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