Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s free throw shooting has been a major Milwaukee Bucks cause for concern this season, but there are positive signs of late.
It’s rare that I find myself revisiting the same topics for articles with any real regularity, but Giannis Antetokounmpo’s free throw shooting is important enough to the Milwaukee Bucks’ postseason prospects that I’m making an exception on this occasion.
Having explored Giannis’ performance at the line just 10 days ago, specifically how he fared when the San Antonio Spurs opted to foul him rather than allowing him to get to the rim, there’s already reason to consider additional positive signs when it comes to the reigning MVP’s free throw shooting.
Antetokounmpo is enduring comfortably the worst free throw shooting season of his career, which is particularly problematic given that he’s averaging a career-high when it comes to the volume of his attempts from the line per game.
Of late, though, there’s been cause for quiet optimism that Antetokounmpo may be turning something of a corner. That’s not to suggest that Giannis is suddenly looking automatic at the line, but his output in his last 10 outings certainly suggests it could be getting less profitable for opposing teams to be content with sending him to the stripe.
In his last 10 games, Antetokounmpo has seen his attempts fall slightly to 8.2 per game, but that does also coincide with a slight drop-off in his playing time due to a combination of back soreness and the Bucks frequently compiling blowout wins.
More importantly, though, Giannis has made his free throws at a 70.7 percent clip over that span. As a career 72.7 percent shooter at the line, it’s certainly refreshing to see Giannis approach a mark that’s closer to his career average, and a percentage that is just perfectly respectable outside of the context of his own ups and downs in that area of his game.
For the season as a whole, Antetokounmpo is now at 62.1 percent from the free throw line, and over the remainder of the season it will only be good news for the Bucks if he can continue to move further away from the sub 60 percent range he was previously dicing with.
Having officially moved into the second half of their season with a win over the Knicks in game No. 42 on Tuesday night, the focus of so much of the conversation around the Bucks will understandably start to pivot to the postseason.
In that context, there are so many elements that can essentially be gameplanned for even from this far out, but it’s the unknowable that is the reliability of Giannis’ free throw shooting that could still make all of the difference in tight games on the biggest of stages.
If nothing else, seeing Antetokounmpo continue to improve with his free throw shooting beyond this small sample should help to build his confidence. If that happens, all of sudden the Bucks will find themselves on even steadier footing than they currently find themselves on.