Even if you haven’t followed the Bucks much over the past 7 years since Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted, if you follow the NBA it’s likely you know that Jason Kidd was the Milwaukee Bucks coach up until the middle of the 2017-2018 season. As reports came out about the firing, some sources tried saying Giannis was very upset and tried to save Kidd’s job. Giannis in all likelihood has secured 2 MVP’s since Kidd’s departure. So just how much of his skill set was developed by Kidd? Let’s take a deeper look.
Impact on Giannis’ Ball Handling:
One of Giannis’ greatest attributes is his ability to handle the ball at the height of 6’11” (possibly 7 ft) with smoothness. While his handles aren’t on the level of someone like Kevin Durant just yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else his size with his ball handling ability. When Jason Kidd took over as coach, Giannis was still a very unknown player to most fan bases. That’s because, during his rookie campaign, Giannis played very little and when he did, he was used as purely a slasher or could even be found camping out in the corner of the 3 point line. When Kidd came in, he saw the potential Giannis had with the ball in his hands, especially in transition. Kidd had Giannis start most of the games that year and gave him a role in the offense in which he would create his own dribble-drives also.
Not only this, but Kidd’s defense was formulated to create turnovers at a high rate to get Giannis and Jabari Parker out in transition for quick buckets. This without a doubt helped Giannis start to improve his handle. In the second year of Kidd, while the Bucks playoff hopes were faltering, Jason decided to turn the last 3rd of the season into an era known as “Point Giannis.” This really helped show off Giannis’ ability to dribble effectively and gave him the confidence to drive past multiple defenders. “Point Giannis” is the era in which Antetokounmpo’s game really became showcased and grew all around.
Significance on Defense:
Since he came into the league, Giannis always had the physical tools to be a great defender. Height, length, speed, athleticism, agility, he had it all. All he really needed was someone to teach him the ins and outs of the NBA and time to grow. With that being said, Kidd did about as good as he could have. Kidd would let Giannis be matched up against the opposing team’s best offensive player when he was as young as 19! The Bucks would always switch on screens during Kidd’s tenure. While it was not always an effective team strategy, it really helped Giannis become more versatile defensively by covering everyone on the court at some point. This shaped his defensive game to be the All-NBA defensive talent he is today. He is able to pretty much shut down nearly any player in the game if matched one on one.
Influence on Passing:
A lot of the same things said about Giannis’ improvement dribbling the ball can be said about the passing. He had flashes of good passing ability his first couple years but it really started being showcased when “Point Giannis” began thanks to Kidd. As time went on, he learned how to read defenses better to know when to pass. His chemistry with teammates grew so he knew where they were going to be when he passed. And overall the crispness of his passes became greater as time went on. His passing seems to get better each year, but the biggest leap took place when he was put at point.
The Damage Done to His Shooting:
Now this is where Kidd may have actually tampered the growth of his game. For those of you who didn’t pay a lot of attention to Giannis his first year, you might not have known he actually was a pretty good shooter. On a small number of attempts, he shot almost 35% from three! Are you wondering why he hasn’t been the same since? Just ask Jason!
It was known throughout the organization that Kidd instructed both Giannis and Jabari Parker to not shoot threes his first year as coach. He was more worried about them developing their strengths than to work on their weaknesses. To Jason’s credit, that is without a doubt the Greek Freak’s strength today and he likely helped with that. But it’s crazy to think of what Giannis could have been had he not been told not to shoot. For example, as a rookie Giannis actually took and made quite a few catch-and-shoot three pointers. This has been a very rare occurrence since then.
In all the years following Kidd’s tenure, there was always a hesitation from Giannis when he’s wide open from deep. When they made short videos for fans to watch on the jumbotron at the game, Giannis and another teammate were asked to write down their biggest fears and Giannis wrote down, “the three point line.” While clearly he did it for some comedic affect, it’s clear Kidd’s words stayed in his head during games. Slowly he has improved that 3 point shot, but it has been known as his weakness ever since Kidd. Giannis said recently that his 3 point issues are all mental, showing Jason’s orders might still be affecting him.
Kidd’s Impact on Giannis
When all is said in done, Jason Kidd did help Giannis improve quite a bit. He took a raw 19 year old from Greece and turned him into the demigod we know and love. He can literally play positions 1-5 offensively and defensively and dominate. As Bucks fans, we should all be grateful for that, even if his teams often underachieved. Now if he can shoot that 34.7% from three again, watch out MJ.
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