Giannis Antetokounmpo: Shaquille O’Neal says MVP must alter his game

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 19 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 19 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been getting compared to NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal for years now because of the similarities between their dominant style of play near the basket.

O’Neal has embraced the comparison with open arms, even passing on his iconic “Superman” nickname to the Greek Freak in 2018. Winning two Most Valuable Player awards since then, Giannis has certainly taken his game up a notch.

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However, it has not helped the Milwaukee Bucks get back to the promised land and hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy, something that O’Neal did four times throughout his illustrious Hall of Fame career.

For the Bucks to break through the barrier that has been their postseason woes, Shaq believes that adjustments must be made. While most would immediately point the finger at head coach Mike Budenholzer, O’Neal is specifically talking about Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Shaquille O’Neal believes that Giannis Antetokounmpo must change his style of play for the Milwaukee Bucks to reach the next level.

O’Neal spoke with FanSided’s Mark Carman to promote The General’s car insurance services, and Giannis was a hot topic included in the discussion:

"“I like Giannis, but the only problem I have with Giannis is that they give him the ball at the top of the key, and defenses are bound to set up a wall. I would take the ball out of his hands and let him move around a little bit… I understand he wants to be a guard and touch the ball every time, but Toronto has shown us that if you form a wall and slow him down and rely on the others to beat you, Milwaukee can be beat.”"

The problem with O’Neal’s take is that Giannis has not gotten the most assistance from his supporting cast during these playoff runs. Co-star Khris Middleton has had his issues remaining consistent on the big stage, and former point guard Eric Bledsoe put on a handful of disappearing acts when the team needed him most.

O’Neal is specifically referring to the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, where the Bucks blew a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Raptors. Toronto began blocking off the paint to prevent Antetokounmpo from dominating, and they reeled off four straight wins to send the Bucks home packing. The Miami Heat also dismantled the Bucks in the 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinals by taking a similar approach to keep Giannis in check.

With these two failures looming over the franchise, the front office went all-in this offseason to acquire a player they felt would help them overcome these postseason shortcomings. That player was Jrue Holiday, a former All-Star who has been nothing short of phenomenal in his first year with the Bucks.

As the team’s new starting point guard, Holiday has shown poise on both ends of the floor at all times and has had an immeasurable overall impact on this franchise.

The guard can orchestrate the offense when called upon. Whether it be making plays for himself or his teammates, he will almost always make the right call. Defensively, Holiday is arguably the best player at his position, and that will come up huge down the road in a seven game series.

While it would be foolish to immediately think that Holiday guarantees an NBA title for the Bucks, he certainly helps their case. Milwaukee now has a floor general that can be trusted with the ball to create offense for everyone. In other words, take the ball out of Antetokounmpo’s hands more and have someone else around him step up.

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That does not mean Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Donte DiVincenzo, and the rest of the supporting cast are off the hook, as they also need to play up to par. It goes without saying that if the Bucks will win a championship, they need more production from everyone not named Giannis Antetokounmpo.