Giannis Antetokounmpo is finally thriving in Milwaukee Bucks’ new offensive system

Feb 3, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports)
Feb 3, 2021; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Nick Monroe/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports) /

Milwaukee Bucks fans, you need not worry about Giannis Antetokounmpo any longer.

Following his third triple-double performance in the Bucks’ 130-110 win over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night, the two-time MVP has not just shaken out of his erratic start to the season. Antetokounmpo has fully immersed himself within the Bucks’ revamped offense that Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer implemented ahead of the 2020-21 season.

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Antetokounmpo’s performance against the Pacers provided a perfect snapshot of what has coalesced for the Greek superstar 21 games into his campaign.

First, there was the ultra efficient 21-point performance, which came on a season-low eight field goal attempts.

While that would previously bode danger for the Bucks as opposing teams have often bottled him up with multiple walls, Antetokounmpo saved all of his damage by scoring all seven baskets directly at the rim and subsequently having 14 paint points.

That raised Antetokounmpo’s finishing on shots taken in the restricted area to 78.7 percent on the season, per That’s tracking for a new career-high for the 26-year-old. For all of the pressure that Antetokounmpo laid on the basket, he swayed away from attempting a 3-pointer for the second straight game, which hasn’t happened since March of 2018.

And by going 7-for-8 from the free throw line, Antetokounmpo raised his free throw percentage to 60.4 percent on the year. Since that awful 1-for-10 outing from the free throw line in the Bucks’ win over the Mavericks last month, Antetokounmpo is 50-for-77 from the foul line (64.9 percent) in the Bucks’ last eight games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has never been better as a playmaker than this season.

While Antetokounmpo has been gradually ironing out his scoring, there’s been no bigger development in Antetokounmpo’s game this season than his playmaking.

Of course, that will only be exemplified after hitting double-digit assists for the third time this season Wednesday night, which helped him reach an average of 6 assists per game. That currently betters his career-high of 5.9 assists per game that he set during his first MVP-winning campaign in 2018-19.

Antetokounmpo has long been an adept passer and willing to find open shooters in any of the Bucks’ famed quadrants placed well behind the 3-point line and in the corners. That hasn’t changed, especially when getting downhill and breaking loose in transition.

What has changed, though, is the spots in which Antetokounmpo has grown accustomed to dishing out passes within the Bucks’ halfcourt offense. The patience and recognition that Antetokounmpo has regularly deployed in hitting cutting teammates or players positioned around the rim has helped him find his comfort within the Bucks’ improved offensive workings.

That led to some lengthy praise from Budenholzer, who commended Antetokounmpo’s unselfishness and playmaking as he and the Bucks have settled into this season.

Clearly, the Bucks’ new offensive system has paid off dividends as they have a league-leading 118.6 offensive rating and hitting 20-plus threes for the fifth time this season has been key to their offensive jump.

There’s no question that when Antetokounmpo has been clicking certainly contributed to such a lofty mark. Now as Antetokounmpo continues to churn out these high-level performances and finds his comfort in the Bucks’ offensive system, he can become a multi-faceted threat that opposing defenses have yet to crack consistently.

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There’s still plenty of season left, but there’s no question that Antetokounmpo has shed his shaky start by his elite standards. In the process, he is becoming fully optimized in ways that we haven’t seen before.