Well Bucks fans, it finally happened. Giannis became just the second player in Bucks’ history to receive the DPOY award. The only player to do so other than Sidney Moncrief. He also becomes just the fifth player in league history to win both MVP and DPOY in their careers. Not to mention becoming the third player in NBA history to win MVP and DPOY in the same year if he wins the MVP as the odds would indicate. Giannis now truly has a great chance to etch his name into NBA history.
Giannis By the Numbers
Antetokounmpo led the other two finalists Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert in a number of statistical categories. He led all in points per 100 possessions, Effective FG%, Rim FG%, Mid-Range FG%, Defensive Win Shares, and Defensive Box Plus/Minus. While some might argue Davis should have won due to having more blocks and steals per game, many consider the categories Giannis won to be a better indicator of good defense.
Statistics like blocks and steals can obviously help a team’s defense significantly, but can be a misrepresentation when it comes to DPOY. For example, a player who plays significantly more minutes than another can obviously inflate these numbers. In addition, most blocks occur near the rim, in which players who play center primarily (Davis and Gobert) have the most opportunity to do so each night. What makes Giannis so special is that teams avoid him as much as possible with the ball. This gives him less opportunities to block or steal, but still having a great impact on the game. It’s the statistics such as opponent Rim FG% that really stand out in showing us who alters shots the best when presented opportunities.
Another big reason why Giannis won DPOY this year is due to his versatility. More so than any other player in the NBA right now, Giannis can play all five positions defensively very well. He has the height and strength to match up with centers and power forwards, and the agility/athleticism to keep up with point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards when called upon. He makes defensive scheming so easy for Bud and the Bucks because they know they can have him guard anyone. They can have four of their five players match up on their strength defensively and have Giannis guard the one player left over and know that they’ll be matched up as well as possible. This is one of the many reasons the Bucks were the NBA’s best defensive team this year.
A trait many people overlook when it comes to defense in basketball is the energy a player puts into it. We see many players around the league today who go all out on offense and leave little to no energy for their defense (that or they just don’t care). The Greek Freak is clearly not one of those. He is the type of player who will try his best to block any shot near him, no matter the situation. Whether it is blocks from behind on plays where you thought he had no chance of blocking them, or he’s getting dunked on, you can guarantee he is trying his hardest every time. Often times a player will try showboating after dunking it just before Giannis could come from behind to block it.
To best illustrate this, I’m going to share my favorite defensive play of Giannis’ career so far. This clip is a very little-known play from just his second year in the league. Up to this point in his career, I had seen him make a few nice chase down blocks. But seeing this live really showed me the type of mindset he had, and I knew greatness was eminent. Notice how Henson and Dudley give up on the play? Literally almost everyone was closer to the ball than he is, and yet he is the one who makes the play. Weaving in and out of five guys in the process. He, at one point, is about 1/4 of the court behind the ball and somehow he blocks it. To this day I cannot describe just how incredible this play is from both an athletic and attitude standpoint.
You can check out the video here.
Congrats Giannis! Now let’s go get this championship!
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