There’s nothing that the Milwaukee Bucks can do but watch on as the Toronto Raptors are living out their dream as they take on the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. Although potential MVP candidate, Giannis Antetokounmpo was very disappointed with the outcome, he believes this could be a great learning curve for himself.
Otherwise known as the Greek Freak, Antetokounmpo has “learned a lot of things watching” Kawhi Leonard operate in the Eastern Conference Finals and he now vows to create a strong mid-range game for teams with strong defenses who build a wall around him.
The Greek Freak also mentions that he needs to pace himself during the regular season and save himself for the playoffs in the way that superstars such as LeBron and KD do.
Per The Athletic:
“I learned a lot of things watching Kawhi while the game was going on,” Antetokounmpo said. “Like his patience. From the way he operates. He operates in the mid-range area. You saw that? He took the ball a step inside the three and faced up. And now he’s got everybody. He sees everybody coming, right? So, why was he doing that? You know why? Because he felt really comfortable in his mid-range game.
“He got a lot of threes out of the pick-and-roll when Brook [Lopez] was back, a lot of catch-and-shoot, a lot of transition threes, but when it was a set game, ain’t nobody shooting threes. It’s the toughest shot in the game. He was going to the easiest shot in the game, that people think is tough, the midrange, like the 15 foot, contested two – something that all the greats do: Kawhi, Kobe [Bryant], [Michael] Jordan, KD, LeBron. When he won the series against Toronto, he was shooting mid-range shots.”
Under [Mike] Budenholzer, Antetokounmpo’s mid-range game was de-emphasized. Last season, 37 percent of his shots came from the mid-range. This year, just 21 percent came from that same area. It was a change Antetokounmpo understood as he destroyed opponents like never before, but one that ultimately took away reps from some of the shots he felt he needed to beat the Raptors’ tough defense.
“I feel like this year, it was just, ‘Boom. power through … guys,’ ” Antetokounmpo said. “And then my back was hurting. I could still play more. If we were playing today, I could play. I could have an even longer season, but at the end of the day, I want to be more skilled. I want to make my game easier.”
“And it’s something from Year 5 to Year 6, I was like, ‘Yeah. OK, I put on seven pounds of muscle. Bro, I’m the most dominant guy in the fucking league. I’m just going to go and fucking dunk it.’ You can get away with it to a point. It’s good if you’re able to do it, but I gotta be more skilled. I gotta get back to my old self. Think like a guard, not as a big.”
The Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Raptors will certainly sting for a while but it’s great news to see that Giannis is taking the right approach with handling the loss, vowing to work on his weaknesses. If the Bucks as a whole can learn from this, they will hopefully be back as strong as ever.