Who is truly the most dominant big man in the NBA? Nikola Jokic won MVP last year and Joel Embiid is a special talent that finished runner-up for the award, but neither can play like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Anthony Davis. Giannis is the reigning Finals MVP and NBA champion after leading the Bucks past the Suns in 6 games last year and is already making a case for being a top-25 player of all time. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis has one of the greatest gifts in sports history as a 6’10” big man that plays like a guard. Both guys are truly once-in-a-generation talents.
But how do Giannis and Davis compare to one another? Giannis Antetokounmpo is a two-time MVP who has led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA championship, along with capturing other accolades such as Defensive Player of the Year. Anthony Davis is the most skilled big man in the game and was the reason the Lakers went from missing the playoffs to NBA champions in one year in 2020. But which superstar is better than the other? It is time to compare between two of (arguably) the top-5 players in the league and try to find a winner.
Scoring - Even
Giannis is averaging 21.1 PPG on 53.2% shooting from the field over his future Hall of Fame career. He is also shooting 71.5% from the free-throw line and only 28.7% from three. It's amazing how Giannis can score so well despite not being a natural shooter from the perimeter because he checks every other box. The forward has incredible ball-handling skills and an unstoppable ability to get to the rim whenever he wants. Even if he cannot shoot as well as others at his position, he can score just as well. He has also averaged over 26 PPG for the past 5 years including this season.
Anthony Davis is averaging 23.9 PPG on 51.4% shooting in his career, including 79.7% from the line and 30.6% from three. Davis can take any opponent inside and out and doesn't have a weakness on the offensive side of the floor. The big man has handles, shooting, post-moves, and a ton of counter-moves to pull off against strong defenders. Davis is not very physical which hurts his impact slightly, but he is still a terrific scorer without any true weakness. Davis has a better offensive skill set than Giannis, but The Greek Freak still manages to score over 26 PPG which makes this eve.
Athleticism - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is probably the most athletic player in the game today. He is extremely long, stands 7 feet tall, and moves like a point guard. He is called "The Greek Freak" for a reason. As a matter of fact, Giannis is as dominant as he is because he is so athletic. He uses his physical gifts to control the game, and that is why he is a two-time reigning MVP and NBA champion.
Anthony Davis is also a gifted athlete when considering his guard-like skills. Davis is long, quick, and has a strong vertical. He moves very well for his size and can handle any position on defense. But he isn't gifted like Giannis Antetokounmpo and relies more on his skills rather than his physical abilities. Unlike Davis, Giannis loves to use his physical skills to dominate the game in every way he wants and he is truly a spectacular player who can also play point-forward as well. The advantage goes to Giannis Antetokounmpo because of that.
Defense - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a great offensive player, and his scoring numbers are clear to see. But Giannis Antetokounmpo is considered one of the best defensive players in the NBA right now because he is equally as effective on defense. Giannis is averaging 1.2 SPG and 1.3 BPG over his career, but his impact goes beyond the numbers. Giannis can guard all five positions at any given time, using his physical gifts and talent to stick with players and bother their shots. Giannis was also the well-deserved Defensive Player of the Year as of the 2020 season.
Anthony Davis is one of the best defensive big men in the entire NBA right now. He can guard smaller players, rotate well on defense, and is very capable of blocking shots. Davis is averaging 1.4 SPG and 2.3 BPG over his career, and will certainly be a contender for the Defensive Player of the Year Award going forward. As great as Davis is, Giannis slightly tops him because The Greek Freak has a Defensive Player of the Year Award and can legitimately guard 5 positions at a time.
Clutch - Anthony Davis
Giannis Antetokounmpo has everything, but his ability in clutch moments had come under question over the past few years. The fact that Giannis isn't a great shooter also harms him in the clutch. But last year, those doubts began to go away. The superstar forward dropped 50 points in Game 6 of last year’s Finals including 117-19 free throws after he struggled to make them consistently before that. This was a truly clutch moment for The Greek Freak.
But as great as Giannis is becoming in the clutch, Anthony Davis might be one of the most clutch players in the league. He has the size to get his shot off whenever he wants, and the scoring ability to make big-time shots. Davis's ability as a scorer makes him a go-to option for the Los Angeles Lakers and we will see Davis taking big shots again this season. We have seen the big man nail multiple game-winners of the past, so he has to take the nod.
Leadership - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis has vastly improved as a leader and is slowly becoming the #1 most dominant player in the NBA. It is only a matter of time before he becomes the undisputed face of the NBA, and all that remains is for him to get closer to the top-15 players ever. Nonetheless, Giannis has shown he can lead a supporting cast to the best record in the league and later an NBA title. He won MVP twice, Finals MVP, and an NBA championship by age 26.
Anthony Davis is a great player but his leadership had come under question. He never led the Pelicans past the first round of the playoffs and only found success by being LeBron James’ sidekick in Los Angeles. Davis is not a natural leader, although he has the talent to be the best player on his team. Giannis has a cut-throat attitude where he fears no one and wants to be the greatest player ever, things Davis has yet to show on that scale. Leading the Bucks to the Finals was extremely impressive, and Giannis is a better leader as a result.
Basketball I.Q. - Giannis Antetokounmpo
When it comes to basketball I.Q., Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis are probably 2 of the best in the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo has a high I.Q and is one of the best overall players in the league right now. He dominates the game on both ends and does not have a weakness besides his inconsistent shooting which is steadily improving by the season.
Anthony Davis also impacts the game on both ends of the floor and is especially a force on offense, and has the natural IQ to dominate on defense as well. The difference comes here: Giannis controls the pace of a basketball game. Antetokounmpo is becoming a spectacular playmaker and floor general and also impacts the game off the ball with his movement and size. Davis is a special player but he does not impact the game in every way that Giannis does.
Impact - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a stat sheet stuffer and is the reason the Bucks are reigning NBA champions. Even if the Brooklyn Nets are getting the most attention in the East, Milwaukee should be the favorites thanks to their superstar player. Giannis’ impact is undeniable and he is probably the best two-way player in the game right now. Giannis is averaging 27.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, and 6.0 APG so far this season.
Anthony Davis is the most skilled big man in the game and doesn't have a weakness on the floor. On 90% of occasions, Davis could impact a game better than any player in the league. But Giannis is a better rebounder, better passer, and a better defensive player. Anthony Davis cuts this one close by averaging 24.3 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 3.1 APG, but he is not a more impactful presence than the reigning NBA champion.
1 on 1 Game - Even
Giannis uses his freakish gifts to dominate any defender in his way. One on one, Giannis is simply unstoppable. He has the strength and athleticism to get to the rim, finish inside with force, and dominate any defender. On the defensive side, he has long arms and a high defensive awareness that can't be equaled at this moment.
On the other side, Anthony Davis is just as dominant one on one. The key reason is his shooting ability. Davis can knockdown shots over defenders far better than Giannis can, which makes him more of a threat in a 1 vs. 1 situation. Giannis might be the more impactful player for his team, but one on one Anthony Davis is just as dominant because of his shooting and offensive moves.
Career - Giannis Antetokounmpo
In terms of career, the edge has to go to Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak has 2 MVPs, a Defensive Player of the Year Award, Finals MVP, and NBA champion. Giannis is also a 5-time All-Star, 4-time All-Defensive Team performer, 2017 Most Improved Players, and an esteemed member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Meanwhile, Davis has an NBA title, 8 All-Star Teams, 4 All-Defensive Teams, and is also a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. The big man’s amount of All-Star selections by the age of 28 years old is truly astonishing, and he could possibly have close to 15 All-Star Team selections. But Davis does not have the individual accolades that Giannis has, and was never the best single player in the league. It was obvious when the big man forced a trade to Los Angeles, he was incapable of forming a winning team in New Orleans.
Giannis has been the man in Milwaukee, making the All-Rookie Team and taking it to another level by becoming a superstar that carried his franchise to an NBA title while winning Finals MVP. Giannis was also an easy inclusion into the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, while many felt that Davis was lucky to get in. No contest here.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Anthony Davis 6-1
Giannis Antetokounmpo edges Anthony Davis as the better superstar player. Anthony Davis is the best possible teammate for LeBron James because he can prosper in a secondary role, but he isn't quite as good as Giannis is. Antetokounmpo can carry a franchise on his back and has more individual accolades than Anthony Davis, along with the proof that he is getting better every year.
Davis has been a superstar since his second NBA season, and he has maintained his high level of play. But The Greek Freak is adding new elements to his game, and has a chance to possibly finish his career as a top-15 player ever. Lastly, Giannis also affects the game in more ways than Anthony Davis, although he isn't as good of a shooter and a scorer, because he has natural leadership abilities that the current Lakers star fails to showcase. As the reigning NBA champion and Finals MVP, there is no doubt that Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the face of the NBA in due time and is a better player than Anthony Davis at this moment.