Friday, December 20, 2013

Greek Freak Update

Giannis made his first NBA start last night against the Knicks. I did not think Giannis would start a game this year, and maybe not next year either. His learning curve has been accelerated by the injuries to small forwards ahead of him on the depth chart, Carlos Defino and Caron Butler. It also has helped that the Bucks have had to play small with more injuries to starting and backup centers Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia. The Bucks have the worst record in the NBA, and since this is a season for tanking there is little reason not to play the young Buck and try to develop him.
Giannis played 42 minutes before fouling out against the Knicks in a game that extended into 2 overtimes before the Bucks lost yet again. Giannis scored 10 points on 2-3FG and 6-7FT with 7reb, 2assists, 2steals, 1block, 3turnovers. On the season he has played in 20 of 25 games averaging 19.4 minutes, 6.2 points, 4.1reb, 1.1 assists, 0.6steals, 0.7blocks, 1.0turnovers and 2.0fouls. He is shooting 49.4%FG, and 28.6%3ptFG. He has been put in a role to limit his inexperience and allow his athleticism to work for him. In the preseason Giannis was given more free reign and the result was tons of turnovers and fouls along with a few spectacular plays that caught the attention of NBA coaches and executives. During the regular season he is usually posted on the wing where he is not really a part of the offense, but he gets an open shot now and then. More importantly it limits his turnovers and allows him to go the glass on the move from the wing where he has made some impressive put backs.

The Bucks try (mostly unsuccessfully) to run because their offense is so bad, and Giannis has shown his ability to finish in transition and make a spectacular pass. For every big dunk or nice pass there are many more lapses. Against the Knicks he was caught guarding Andrea Bargnani on the perimeter who cannot do anything out there but shoot. Giannis got caught looking and Bargnani drained a 3 as Giannis realized he was late on the close out. These mistakes are quite common, but not unforgiveable for a kid that just turned 19. Hopefully he will learn from these mistakes. Even with all the mistakes Giannis is way ahead of where I figured he would be at this point in his career. He is already an acceptable NBA player. A long way from a great NBA player, a good NBA player, or even decent NBA player, but still not bad for a kid that never played against college basketball talent let alone the likes of Carmelo Anthony who he guarded at times against the Knicks.

I have given up rooting for the Bucks this year, or even just trying to enjoy some good basketball (unless I am watching the Spurs fundamentally destroy the Bucks). I still watch the games, but I'm not really watching the Bucks. I'm just watching Giannis and Henson to see how they play, and how they develop. Sadly this is far more interesting than watching the Bucks. Tonight Giannis got the ball on the wing, took a couple dribbles to create space and calmly drained a step back 3 as the shot clock was winding down. The splash plays like that give me hope that I could be watching him as an All-Star caliber player some day. For now I'll just have to settle for watching a young kid learn.

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