How Has Milwaukee Bucks Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo Changed His Game This Season?

Published 02/08/2021, 1:00 PM EST
Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after scoring against the Detroit Pistons at the Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most dominant stars in the NBA. He has cemented his place in the league by winning two successive regular-season MVP awards in addition to being named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.


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His dominant presence enabled the Bucks to post the league’s best record for the last two seasons. But with increasing competition in the association, can Giannis lead the Bucks to a championship in 2021?

How is Giannis Antetokounmpo changing his play-style this season?


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Over the last two years, Antetokounmpo has established his position as one of the best players in the business. His physicality and explosive approach to the rim produces spectacular highlight dunks and it has been the strongest part of his game.

The one thing that he lacks as of now is a consistent jump shot. From last year, he has constantly been trying his best to add some much-needed threat from the perimeter. During the 2019-20 season, Giannis attempted an average of 4.7 three-point attempts and made 1.4 threes per game.

This season he has been averaging about four attempts and successfully converts one of them. With the lack of success from the perimeter, the Greek Freak has resorted to his most effective position on the court, the restricted area.

According to NBA analyst Shane Young, the 26-year-old has attempted 211 shots from the restricted area this season. He has made 77.3% of these shots.

Giannis in the restricted area, by season (with attempts):

2016-17: 68.8% (663)
2017-18: 71.5% (699)
2018-19: 73.7% (769)
2019-20: 74.2% (651)

2020-21: 77.3% (211 so far)

— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) February 8, 2021

With him making multiple shots from the restricted area, Giannis’ three-point attempts have also plummeted in the last five games.

The 26-year-old has been absolutely lethal from the restricted area. This was evident in the Bucks’ latest win against the Pacers where the ‘Greek Freak’ scored 21 points shooting 7-8 from the field with all the attempts coming near the paint. While this new approach by Antetokounmpo shows promise, can it be effective in the playoffs?

Can the new Bucks’ offensive system translate to playoff success?

The Bucks have finally found a cohesive system to integrate Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Giannis occupying the paint, he has become a defensive nightmare for other teams.


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As defenders try to rally him up by using the double-team, Antetokounmpo uses his vision to find a free shooter. This efficient system has led to the Bucks having the best offensive rating in the league.

Feb 5, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks during the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

But despite the success the system has seen, it might not be that effective in the playoffs. If Giannis’ go-to scoring tool is in the paint, then he might become a one-dimensional scorer and thus predictable.


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Top teams in the league have been effective in containing the ‘Greek Freak,’ deploying more bodies in the paint to restrict him. Will coach Budenholzer’s new system work in the playoffs?


Aditya Mohapatra

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Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.