Giannis Antetokounmpo: Considering stats in all-time context through 7 seasons

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Turner Sports) /

Seven seasons into his NBA career, how does Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo’s production stack up in an all time context?

It’s fair to say his path to becoming an MVP winner and one of the NBA’s most dominant players was far from traditional, but seven seasons into his career, Giannis Antetokounmpo is certainly leaving his mark on the history books.

One of the more interesting elements in watching Antetokounmpo ascend to the game’s pinnacle in recent years with the Milwaukee Bucks has come in imagining what kind of legacy it will leave him with, and how it’s taking shape.

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Unlike most who reach the heights he’s now playing at, Antetokounmpo was not a top pick with plenty of college experience. Nor was he an overseas star who’d already proven his abilities in Europe. Instead, he was raw and filled with potential, meaning his journey required what was essentially years of learning and improving on the job.

Seven years in (or close to it considering the season is currently on hold, and is certain to be shortened), and with his production becoming gaudier with every passing season, it seems like a good time to consider what Antetokounmpo has done in a broader historical context.

Considering his more limited role early on, and even the modest minutes he’s played due to his team’s dominance over the past two seasons, is it even possible for Antetokounmpo’s numbers to stack up with the most revered figures to ever play the game?

The answer is undoubtedly yes.

What’s most impressive about Antetokounmpo is the variety to his game. It’s his ability to do it all, and shoulder an incredible workload for his team, that really sets him apart.

Before we get to the whole, let’s take a closer look at the individual parts using Basketball-Reference’s invaluable play index tools.

Giannis has scored 10,435 regular season points for his career to date. That makes him one of 63 players in league history to have crossed the 10,400 point mark in their first seven seasons. Ranking all 63 of those players in terms of minutes played, Antetokounmpo comes in 57th overall with 16,983 minutes, almost 8,000 fewer than Elvin Hayes, the all-time leader for minutes at that point in a career.

In terms of rebounds, Antetokounmpo has racked up 4,627 career boards, making him one of only 59 players to cross 4,600 boards for seasons 1 through 7.

Now akin to a primary ball-handler, what’s interesting about Antetokounmpo’s total of 2,250 assists is that it wasn’t initially his responsibility to set up teammates. Still, in spite of his position and how his game has developed, Antetokounmpo is one of just 150 players to cross 2,200 assists in their first seven campaigns.

With 618 steals, Antetokounmpo is one of 214 players to cross the 600-steal mark in their first seven seasons, while his 684 blocks leave him as one of 117 players with over 600 rejections at that juncture.

Also worth mentioning is that Giannis is one of just 16 players to have shot 52 percent from the field or better on over 7,000 field goal attempts through his first seven years.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s production to this point in his NBA career leaves the Milwaukee Bucks star in the legendary company of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Larry Bird.

Having identified the individual elements, it’s now worth examining the groupings of those stats, given that Antetokounmpo’s ability to enforce his will on all elements of the game is central to his dominance.

Without getting ultra specific and essentially cherry picking with Antetokounmpo’s exact stats, rounding the numbers down to search for players who’ve had 10,000 points, 4,000 rebounds, and 2,000 assists, leaves only Giannis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, and (somewhat surprisingly) Antoine Walker.

Pairing those numbers with 500 blocks leaves just Abdul-Jabbar alongside Giannis. And adding a 500 steals criterion leaves Antetokounmpo alone, although that’s largely due to the fact that steals weren’t recorded until Kareem’s fifth season.

Inversely, adding over 500 steals leaves just Antetokounmpo and Bird. Again, adding blocks would eliminate Bird, although with 471 blocks the Celtics legend came very close.

Whatever way you spin it, only Abdul-Jabbar and Bird can really lay a claim to the kind of overall production that Giannis has delivered through the first half of his career.

The fact that duo entered the league as proven commodities and, at a very different time, played significantly more minutes means they managed to pile on even more points, rebounds, and assists than Giannis has, but given the reigning MVP’s current trajectory, he may yet manage to eat into those leads in the years ahead.

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As if it wasn’t already apparent, Bucks fans have been lucky enough to watch something very special happening over the past seven seasons.