2. Giannis has some homework to do
The Greek Freak had one of the most impressive statistical seasons in recent memory, and it will likely result in his first MVP trophy in late June. However, his play against the Raptors was a real eye-opening experience for those who follow him closely and forces a re-evaluation of his place in the NBA’s superstar hierarchy.
While his numbers in the conference finals pail in comparison to about 99 percent of the league, Giannis struggled with both his scoring and efficiency. He averaged 22.7 points per game — down five points from the regular season — with a sub-45 percent shooting percentage and hit less than 60.0 percent on free throws.
Plenty of credit should be given to Toronto’s defense forcing him into tough shots throughout. Whenever Antetokounmpo attacked the basket, he was met with multiple defenders at the rim. Rather than dish the ball out, he forced a number of ill-advised shots that did no favors to Milwaukee’s offense.
The struggles from the stripe are an indescribable phenomenon from a guy who hit a respectable 72.9 percent during the regular season. It’s the lack of an outside shot, however, that was highlighted at the worst possible times.
Look at Kawhi Leonard, an elite all-around scorer capable of getting any look he wants. Upon being closed off from the rim, he doesn’t fret, confident in his abilities as a jump shooter both inside and around the arc. That total offensive package makes him unpredictable, an aspect he uses to his advantage.
For as dominant as Antetokounmpo is, unpredictability is not one of his strong suits. He attacks the rim, and if it doesn’t work he tries and tries again. The Raptors didn’t need to account for different options because they knew such didn’t exist.
For Giannis to take his game to the next level, he has to command respect outside the paint. This doesn’t entail becoming a 40.0 percent 3-point shooter overnight, but a greater variety of weapons offensively would help counter the types of defenses that hampered him when he was needed the most.