The Milwaukee Bucks are 16-9 on the season. It’s not as strong as their two previous starts, but it’s good enough to place them second in the Eastern Conference. They also have the top-ranked offense in the league, both in scoring (121.4 PPG) and offensive rating (119.6).
For two NBA scouts, though, there’s one glaring problem in Milwaukee that shouldn’t be ignored: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s deficiency at the free-throw line, especially during crunch time. One of them also threw a subtle shade on Giannis’s buddying All-Star, Khris Middleton.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps quoted the two anonymous scouts in his recent piece:
“Are you going to win with him shooting [63%] from the line?” asked an Eastern Conference scout. “That is a huge deal.”
“I just don’t know if Khris Middleton will be good enough to be the go-to guy down the stretch,” a West scout said. “Giannis clearly isn’t going to be it.”
Giannis is averaging his usual stat line this 2020-21 – 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1 steal, and 1.2 blocks on 56.2% shooting. However, he is indeed being a liability at the charity stripe, shooting a terrible 63.3% on 10.2 attempts per game, which ties the career-low he set last season.
We can also clearly see the shooting woes when he’s not close to the rim. Outside dunks and lay-ups, where he rightfully shoots 82.8%, Giannis isn’t going above 37.8%:
- 3 ft to <10 ft: 37.8% (28-for-74)
- 10 ft to <16 ft: 28.6% (8-for-28)
- 16 ft to <22 ft: 34.5% (10-for-29)
- 3-pt line and beyond: 27.6% (27-for-98)
Checkout Phoenix Suns All-Star Devin Booker commenting on Giannis’s midrange abilities in the clutch.:
Nevertheless, those are actually just half of the key factors if you want to poke holes on the two-time reigning MVP. Giannis’s playoff shortcomings are still quite fresh from everyone’s memory, which are both equally rough.
Courtesy of the now infamous ‘wall’ defense, The Greek Freak was tamed by the Toronto Raptors in 2019 and the Miami Heat in 2020, which resulted in the supposedly title-contending Bucks getting booted out through a backdoor and gentleman’s sweep, respectively.
Should teams still be concerned about the Bucks?
They should. For all we know, the Bucks not being the absolute regular season killers like in seasons past is just them playing coy. Maybe Giannis is just coasting and reserving everything in the postseason?
Despite all the struggles, we still shouldn’t discount the fact that the Bucks have three defensive aces on the roster: Giannis, Middleton, and off-season acquisition Jrue Holiday.
The Bucks will be back in action tomorrow at 10 AM, Manila time. They’ll visit the Utah Jazz and will try to avenge their 131-118 loss last month.