Giannis Antetokounmpo: Analyzing his jump shot progress

Having sported significant strides throughout the 2019-20 season, we dive into the overall progress Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has made with his jumper.

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has heard all of the noise regarding his jumper.

Throughout the 2019-20 season, Antetokounmpo has made a point of trying to redefine the perception that he’s a non-shooter or an ineffective shooter, and building upon the foundation he has set little by little playing under head coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff.

Of course, there’s no better reference point to the reigning MVP’s shooting struggles than how he’s historically fared from beyond the arc, considering he’s a 28.5 career 3-point shooter.

This year, though, Antetokounmpo has made significant progress on his shooting stroke from that range of the floor, thanks to his occasional ability to pull up from the top of the key.

Per NBA.com/stats, 57 of Antetokounmpo’s 83 triples this season have come off the dribble and he’s hit on such attempts at a 28.5 percent clip.

It’s on the catch where Antetokounmpo has been surprisingly lethal hitting threes as he’s gone 24-for-61 for the season, good for 39.3 percent. That’s quite the step up from Antetokounmpo going 15-for-67 on catch-and-shoot attempts from long range (22.4 percent) during his MVP-winning season in 2018-19.

That may be surprising to see Antetokounmpo sport such a consistency at hitting treys without any rhythm, but it proves that the growing confidence he’s shown over the last two seasons especially has been borne out on the court.

Even with those incremental improvements from long distance, opponents have been more than willing to live with Antetokounmpo simply trying to knock down outside shots and whatever results come with that. And the space all 29 other teams cede to the Greek forward extends well within the arc where Antetokounmpo’s jump shot hasn’t always been that smooth.

The 25-year-old has certainly flirted with trying to develop a worthwhile in-between game to make those opposing teams pay, whether it’s been mid-range shots or a variety of fadeaway and/or turnaround shots to hit over the top of opponents. On those types of shots, Antetokounmpo has buried 33 of his 63 fadeaway attempts throughout the year (52.4 percent).

To be clear, though, that shouldn’t mask the long-standing deficiencies Antetokounmpo has sported when looking to hit shots from the mid-range area where he’s hit 38 percent of his 108 attempts this season. That is still a slight upgrade over what Antetokounmpo had shot from that area of the floor over the last few seasons, but it still remains a sore spot in Antetokounmpo’s overall shot profile that would have continued to be tested before this current hiatus.

Considering all of this was under the backdrop of Antetokounmpo’s well-known struggles from the free throw line this season, it all goes to show that the hurdles he has made regarding his shot from all levels of the floor, there’s still plenty more to clear. In relation to his free throw struggles, it’s a shame that Antetokounmpo’s recent uptick was essentially dashed with the 2019-20 season being paused.

With that said, the overall rewiring of Antetokounmpo’s mindset, and the confidence he has repeatedly shown since going under the wing of shot doctor and Bucks assistant coach Ben Sullivan has been palpable. And as Sullivan told NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner before this Bucks season tipped off, helping Giannis open up his whole offensive repertoire has been as crucial as any mechanical adjustments he’s made:

“The term I’ve heard is ‘shooting psyche,’ ” Sullivan said. “Even more so than technique, I think mentally he’s really starting to understand the impact [his shooting] can have on everybody. When Giannis comes in, he’s going to the rim and trying to dunk on people. Which is right. So deciding to shoot is secondary.

“But he needs to mentally grow in that area, of ‘attack with the jumper, shoot a pull-up here, shoot a three there.’ We want him to play completely to his strengths, and then whenever a shot’s available, take it.”

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Hopefully, if the 2019-20 season is able to proceed eventually, we can see Antetokounmpo build on the sound foundation that has helped him combat the biggest and most uncomfortable flaw left remaining from his skill package.

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