Giannis Antetokounmpo: Getting back up to speed after slow start to season

Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 4, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports) /

After some ups and downs to start the year, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo broke through in the team’s win over the Detroit Pistons.

It hasn’t necessarily been a dream start to the 2020-21 season for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The two-time MVP has had to weather through some significant turbulence to start the year, whether it was being limited to nine points in the Bucks’ 47-point victory over the Miami Heat last week or simply playing far below his highly efficient standards.

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Whatever the case may be, it was clear Antetokounmpo hadn’t played to the best of his abilities going into the Bucks’ ongoing five-game homestand.

Now, over the Bucks’ last two games, first a 30-point blowout victory over the Chicago Bulls and a comfortable 10-point win over the Detroit Pistons, Antetokounmpo has stepped up back into the lead chair with performances that we’ve come to expect from the 26-year-old.

Even what has clearly been inferior competition over the last two games, Antetokounmpo has reveled in going up against teams like the Bulls and the Pistons by rattling off 29-point and 43-point performances, respectively. Monday night even saw the Greek superstar score 30 points in the first half, the first time he’s ever achieved such a mark over his illustrious career.

While there is more room for him to hit his MVP-like standard, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s improved showings are certainly an encouraging sign.

The ease and effortlessness that Antetokounmpo showed striding and muscling his way to the basket over that first half against Detroit was surely cathartic for many reasons. And while he was slowed in his pursuit of what would have been his third 50-point game of his career, Antetokounmpo finishing with 43 points on 24 shots came as a solid consolation prize.

As he reflected to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the win over Detroit, the Pistons selling out to defend the 3-point line played right into Antetokounmpo’s hands of dissecting their interior defense:

"“It’s definitely not easy – it might look easy but it’s not,” Antetokounmpo said of his work around the basket. “Actually, as the game went on they were showing more bodies but I wasn’t surprised. Like the previous games, they watched tape, they scout us (and) at the start of the game they come ready to play us and they know that the previous games I’ve been finding my teammates for a lot of threes, finding the shooters. So, come to this game probably it was like ‘Don’t let him pick us apart with the passing.’ So, that’s why there was a lot of space.”"

While Antetokounmpo’s distribution is certainly worthy of exploring further elsewhere, the fact that he’s been able to have as much as success scoring the ball on this homestand certainly improves the Bucks’ top-ranked offense, if that is possible.

We’re only seven games into the Bucks’ season, but Antetokounmpo’s performances to this point have very much mirrored what we have seen from the team as a whole. Although we’re only seeing the glimpses of potential of what this Bucks team hopes to be as they vie for an NBA title, we certainly have plenty of evidence of what caliber of player Antetokounmpo is.

Next. What’s trending through first two weeks of season. dark

Bigger tests are surely to come like as soon as this week when the Utah Jazz come to town on Friday night, but it’s safe to say that Antetokounmpo is finding the rhythm that will help the Bucks truly take flight this season.