If you’re even peripherally familiar with Bucks basketball, you know that Giannis Antetokounmpo has gotten off to a blistering start this season. The Greek Freak has averaged 21.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game so far, and he’s sure to start racking up some triple doubles soon. He leads the Bucks in points, assists, blocks and steals per game, and his rebounds per game are second only to Greg Monroe (8.6). All this while having a very reasonable usage rate of 28.7%, only 24th in the league. He also leads the team in win shares with 1.1. If he stays on this track, Giannis will find himself with one of the best Buck seasons by win shares of all-time:
|10||Giannis Antetokounmpo (projected)||2016-2017||12.9|
As you can see, Giannis is lining up to put himself in some pretty solid company here. This would be the best season from a Buck in 15 years, since Ray Allen’s excellent 2000-2001 campaign which took Milwaukee to the Eastern Conference Finals. Besides that, the eight other seasons present are split between Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who had the five best Bucks seasons in history in five consecutive years, the team’s second through sixth years of existence) and Sidney Moncrief, easily two of the greatest players in franchise history. Not bad for someone who doesn’t turn 22 for another month.
His season isn’t just shaping up to be one for the franchise’s record books, though. He’s currently 12th in the league in win shares and 4th in the Eastern Conference, behind Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler and DeMar Derozan. Many Milwaukee fans feel like this is the year a Buck finally gets back into the all-star game, and it’s clear that Giannis would be deserving of this honor if his season continues like this.
The best part for Bucks fans is that Giannis still has a lot of room to improve. For one, as mentioned above, he’s still only 21 years old. He’s averaging 3.2 turnovers a game, which is the 10th-highest rate in the league. This is the most glaring downside in Giannis’s game right now, but it’s hard to imagine that this number won’t go down as he continues to mature. Even with his turnovers as high as they are, his assist-to-turnover ratio is still 2.0 (tied for 47th in the league), which isn’t quite so bad, though it could also stand to improve. If he cut just a turnover per game off of his current rate, for example, he’d jump to a top 20 assist-to-turnover ratio in the league.
As Giannis continues to get more experience under his belt and continues to improve, his young teammates which currently form the core of this franchise (Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe, even Rashad Vaughn and Malcolm Brogdon) should do the same, turning this Bucks team into a perennial contender. This should be a scary prospect for the rest of the league and a thrilling one for Bucks fans. The best part? We still have 75 games left to watch Giannis do his thing in this season alone.