Giannis Antetokounmpo: 3 factors that have contributed to erratic start

Jan 8, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 8, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports) /
1 of 3
Jan 13, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 13, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /

One month into his 2020-21 season, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has been searching for consistency.

The two-time MVP has played anything but his MVP-like standard over an extended period of time so far this season. However, that likely wouldn’t be able to gleam that from his stat line he’s averaging at 27 points on .538/.309/.583 shooting, 10.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks over his 15 appearances.

More from Bucks News

Despite that gaudy production that follows someone of Antetokounmpo’s caliber even on an off night like the one he had in Milwaukee’s 113-106 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, the 26-year-old has played below expectations.

Whatever the reasons are that have plagued Antetokounmpo into this curious start is unknown, but there are some numbers to back up why the eight-year forward has struggled to hit his dominant marks on a nightly basis.

So without further ado, let’s dive into some of the reasons that have contributed to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s uncharacteristic start to the 2020-21 season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is getting to the rim less often

There are very few other players in the NBA whose game is predicated on getting to the basket at the staggering volume that Antetokounmpo showed over his back-to-back MVP seasons.

Over the last two seasons, no player attempted more shots in the restricted area than Antetokounmpo and putting that kind of pressure at the rim surely contributed to why he scored a combined 2,360 paint points over that span.

To that point, it’s perhaps very concerning to see Antetokounmpo’s volume of attempts at the basket slide precipitously as much as it has to start this season. Per, 48.8 percent of Antetokounmpo’s total shots this season have come at the rim, which currently stands as the lowest mark of his eight-year career.

Of course, driving lanes haven’t been as clear are wide-open as they have been in years past while Antetokounmpo has played under Budenholzer.

The details that The Athletic’s Eric Nehm ($$) recently detailed in regards to the Bucks’ offense has certainly cluttered some of the space that would have normally been provided a runway for Antetokounmpo to get to the basket. The overall benefit, though, the Bucks’ offense changing schematically has led to them having the second-highest offensive rating in the league, per

While that may be so, the collective physical toll it takes for Antetokounmpo to barrel down the paint in front of a crowd of defenders can’t be ignored here. The following quote from Antetokounmpo made to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the Bucks’ first of three wins over the Detroit Pistons this season has stuck with me as the year has gone on:

"“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.”"

There’s no way of knowing the heavy legs that Antetokounmpo might or might not feel after each successive drive to the paint he has. We do know, though, that he’s getting to the paint and the basket less than he ever has and there’s no shortage of reasons why.