Milwaukee Bucks: A deep analysis on sparkplug Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Feb 21, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)
Feb 21, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) /
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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 09: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 09: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Thanasis Antetokounmpo radiates energy with every step, and has harnessed it to help resurrect the Milwaukee Bucks from their lowest point this year.

As the Bucks were presented with unprecedented regular season adversity, all of which coincided with Jrue Holiday being sidelined with COVID-19 and missing 10 games as a result, they looked vulnerable and were at the mercy of their opponents. Throughout their five-game losing skid, the Bucks uncharacteristically committed sloppy turnovers, forfeited paint control on both ends, and failed to convert outside looks.

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As those symptoms worsened as the skid wore on, peaking with one of their most lifeless performances against the Toronto Raptors, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer turned to the elder Antetokounmpo to spark some life into the proceedings upon staring down an eventual 110-96 defeat that Thursday night.

That loss served as rock bottom for the Bucks as well as the end of their losing slump. Save for their loss to the Denver Nuggets right before the All-Star break, Thanasis has established himself back in the Bucks’ rotation, often spelling his younger brother and reigning MVP, Giannis.

By doing so, the Bucks have turned to Antetokounmpo to give them the emotional lift they need, especially in bench minutes. Many Bucks players stand higher in importance, but very few, if any, are able to supply the energy and effort that makes Thanasis the Bucks’ sparkplug in all intents and purposes.

By playing each minute as though it’s his last, Antetokounmpo has seized this opportunity to carve out even in a limited role with the Bucks’ rotation. In his 26 appearances, Antetokounmpo is averaging 2.3 points on 60.5 percent shooting from the field (2-for-9 from three), 2.1 rebounds, 0.7 assists in 8.7 minutes per contest.

More importantly, the Bucks clearly feed off of having Thanasis on the floor, even if he has a -4.8 net rating over his 227 minutes this season, per The Bucks are 8-2 in games where Thanasis plays 10 or more minutes this season.

However, though, his end-of-rotation designation did come from somewhere. Thanasis’ limited offensive skill and lack of finesse force Coach Bud to keep his on-court stints short and sweet. Effort-based intangibles are just as valuable, though, and few contribute more than the lesser-known Antetokounmpo.

Such a unique player deserves a holistic performance analysis and without further ado, let’s look at just how Thanasis impacts the Bucks when he steps on the floor.