Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t only playing against the New York Knicks on Friday night, but the Milwaukee Bucks youngster has already lived up to his nickname in the game’s early going, too.
After notching a mostly inexplicable DNP-CD in his team’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week, The Greek Freak was back in the starting lineup 48 hours later. And considering this mesmerizing two-way sequence, it’s a wonder that Jason Kidd ever left him out of it – let alone on the bench for a game’s entirety.
What’d you think of that block, behind-the-back move, and soaring dunk, Giannis?
While highlights like this excite the masses, they won’t get the 20 year-old out of Kidd’s dog house – assuming he’s in it, of course. What surely will is sustained defensive engagement. Though Kidd never specified reasons behind Antetokounmpo’s benching, the numbers indicated Milwaukee has been defending far more effectively of late when he’s on the bench.
There’s no reason that Giannis shouldn’t make an impact on that side of the ball every night – he has the physical tools to be an absolute terror, obviously. But defense is about more than skying for blocks and jumping passing lanes for steals, a reality it takes time for the vast majority of young players to grasp. Might have Antetokounmpo forgotten that recently? Maybe, but here’s hoping he isn’t benched anytime soon either way.The game is better off with preternatural talents like The Greek Freak running the floor as opposed to riding the bench.
Antetokounmpo has nine points and five rebounds at intermission as the Bucks lead the Knicks 51-49.