Last year Giannis Antetokounmpo was fantastic while the Milwaukee Bucks struggled. Let’s take a lot at how unique his season really was.
Often the shallowest way to examine the game of basketball is by following the points. Yet it is always the measure that counts the most. Did you score more than the other team? If the answer is yes then you win, if not, you lose. Simple and to the point.
But anyone beyond the most casual hoops observers can tell you there are a variety of factors on the court that lead to points and therefore wins. Many of these factors can be measured simply in the box score like rebounds, assists, and blocks. Others can be measured using complex formulas and advanced stats such as win shares. Finally, others still cannot be quantified in any manner. Team chemistry is a good example of that.
The Milwaukee Bucks own Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, can make a stat sheet sing. He set a Bucks franchise record with five triple-doubles this past year. He also did something some might say is equally impressive; having one of the more statistically unique seasons in NBA history.
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Giannis averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game in 2015-16. Excluding points entirely, the averages of at least 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block per game (7-4-1-1) have only occurred 47 times in the NBA since the 1979-80 season, in other words, in the three-point era. These 47 stat lines have been produced by only 26 players.
Of those 26 players only seven have produced those averages for more than one season. Those players are Kevin Garnett (10 times), Chris Webber (7 times), Scottie Pippen (3 times), LeBron James (3 times), Julius Erving (2 times), Sam Lacey (2 times) and Josh Smith (2 times). The players who, like Giannis so far, have only maintained those averages once in their entire career include: David Robinson, Larry Bird, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Draymond Green.
Only Lamar Odom managed to produce the 7-4-1-1 stat line at a younger age than Antetokounmpo. Lamar did it at 20 years old, Giannis did it at 21 years old, and the average age for a player’s first season averaging 7-4-1-1 was 24.3.
Additionally, only four of the 20 who turned out these stats were in the NBA for fewer years than Giannis, who did it in his third year. Lamar Odom did it in his rookie campaign while Chris Webber, Christian Laettner, and Lionel Simmons all did it in their second season.
All in all this indicates that Giannis is on the early side of players who have done this at least once in their careers. While being young, he was also efficient. Antetokounmpo is ranked 12th out of 40 in true shooting percentage. You have to go all the way down the true shooting percentage rankings to Kevin Garnett at 30th to find a player Giannis’ age or younger.
Antetokounmpo’s season was the 34th best out of 47 in terms of assists. With that being said, Point Giannis showed us that he can sustain the 7-4-1-1 thresholds while bumping his assist numbers up significantly. Over the final 28 games of last season he averaged 7.2 assists per game.
If we adjust our minimum averages to 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block (7-7-1-1) we cut out a lot of the individual seasons and players from our starting point of 47. What we are left with is just five qualifying single seasons produced by three players: LeBron James (3 times), Scottie Pippen, and Draymond Green.
There is a legitimate chance Giannis could be the fourth player in NBA history to average 7-7-1-1 as soon as next season. And he might be able to do it a few more times in his career too if he runs the point for a majority of his career.
If he could maintain the 7-7-1-1 averages next season while contributing points at a similarly efficient clip (true shooting percentage around 0.57) then it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider him a top six point guard in the league. That kind of output would also help Giannis earn his first All Star appearance and get him onto an All NBA Team.
7-7-1-1 averages would certainly assure Antetokounmpo a spot on either the the All-NBA First or Second Team. When Scottie Pippen and Draymond Green reached those averages they made the Second Team. All three times LeBron James has reached those averages has resulted in him making the First Team. Even if Milwaukee struggles in 2016-17, Giannis would still garner a spot on the Third Team.
Milwaukee Bucks fans are lucky. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a very special player. As a 21-year-old, third year player he entered into an extremely exclusive basketball fraternity.
For some players, one season in the 7-4-1-1 club is the pinnacle of their NBA careers (i.e. Christian Laettner). For others, it is a building block for a Hall of Fame career (i.e. Kevin Garnett).
It will be interesting to see what it means for the Greek Freak when his career is complete.