As Giannis Antetokounmpo begins to round into top form, his second half dominance has been particularly crucial for the Milwaukee Bucks.
We’re only 10 games into the regular season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo is already playing at a level that should be striking terror into the hearts of opposing teams around the NBA.
Antetokounmpo is already averaging 29.7 points, 14.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.3 steals, while boasting a true shooting percentage of 64.2. The Greek superstar has led the Bucks to a 7-3 record, and already picked up a Player of the Week award too.
Within those numbers, though, there is another interesting trend emerging from Antetokounmpo’s early season play, and one which has been particularly apparent in the Bucks’ two most recent outings.
Antetokounmpo has been playing considerably better in the second half over the course of the season so far, demonstrating notable improvements from one half to another in a number of key areas.
The extremes of that trend were in evidence against the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, with Antetokounmpo scoring 28 of his 30 points after the interval against the former, and 24 of his 35 points in the second half against the latter.
In an ideal world, Antetokounmpo wouldn’t need to rebound from sub-par starts in the second half, but honestly his second half play has been so productive that the disparity between the two has become something of a moot point.
As it is, Antetokounmpo’s second half numbers are at a level that the second or third best players on most teams would be incredibly content with.
In an average of 17.4 second half minutes, Antetokounmpo is posting 18.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. Even more striking is just how much more efficient his shooting becomes as the game progresses.
Antetokounmpo is shooting an uncharacteristically low 49.4 percent from the field in first halves, as opposed to his 65.7 percent mark in the second half. Even more interestingly, Giannis’ problem area shooting, that being his efficiency from behind the three-point line and at the charity stripe, also jumps significantly after the break.
Giannis is shooting a very respectable 36 percent from behind the arc in second halves versus his 21.4 percent clip in the first two quarters, while his free throw shooting also jumps from 59.1 percent to 68.2 percent after an opportunity to regroup, and occasionally take his anger out on arena signs.
Whether this trend continues or simply proves to be a small sample anomaly remains to be seen, but at this current juncture it is also worthy of some further examination.
Does the difference between Antetokounmpo’s first and second half play, and particularly his improved shooting efficiency, tell us something about his ability to work his way into rhythm within games?
If that’s the case, could it also tell us that Antetokounmpo may need to consider how he can get himself into a better rhythm from the opening tip? Certainly if this trend was to hold up over a longer period of time, it may lead to questions as to whether his increasingly legendary, high-intensity pre-game workouts are leaving him a little leggy when the action gets underway.
Of course, as an important sidenote in all of this, it’s worth pointing out that Antetokounmpo’s second half production could also be even better, if not for the fact that he’s fouled out three times already this season.
Either way, Antetokounmpo’s play across the first 10 games has been very impressive, and his level in second halves in particular has been exceptional.
If he can maintain that over the course of the year, and pick up his first half play along with it, the Bucks may become nearly impossible to stop as the season progresses.