Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the best player in the world and, in the last nine games, he performed at an obscene level with 38.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per contest. The Milwaukee Bucks standout is also set to be a captain in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, with the contest set for Sunday in Salt Lake City. However, the Bucks had one more game before the All-Star break and, on Thursday evening, Antetokounmpo suffered a first-half injury that could cost him some time.
Antetokounmpo exited early in the second quarter after attempting to block a shot from Chicago’s Coby White and going down in obvious discomfort.
This is the play where Giannis may have injured his wrist while attempting a chasedown block on Coby White. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/wuzPP0ZpXy
— Digits Hoops (🏀,📊) (@Digits3Hoops) February 17, 2023
Antetokounmpo then was almost immediately taken to the locker room. After a short period of evaluation, the Bucks announced he would not return to the game with a right wrist sprain.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will NOT return to tonight’s game due to a right wrist sprain.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 17, 2023
It is far too early to know specifics, but any absence for Antetokounmpo could have wide-ranging implications. The Bucks are title contenders based heavily on his individual brilliance, and Milwaukee simply isn’t the same team without Antetokounmpo in the middle of everything. In addition, the league may have to fill a fourth (or fifth, pending Joel Embiid’s status) slot as an injury replacement if Antetokounmpo can’t appear on Sunday and, while that isn’t the highest priority by any means, it could cause a bit of a scramble just hours before the festivities of All-Star weekend begin (where Giannis is also scheduled to be part of the Saturday night Skills Challenge).
In the meantime, Bucks personnel will be holding their breath and hoping for a positive update in the near future.
UPDATE: The initial update from Mike Budenholzer was fairly positive, as he revealed it is a wrist sprain for Giannis but that x-rays were clean and they’re hopeful it’s not too severe.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, on Giannis Antetokounmpo's right wrist sprain:
"I think the initial reports were hopeful. The x-ray was clean. And he's got a sprain. I think we'll see how he feels tomorrow, see how he feels the next few days and continue to evaluate it."
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 17, 2023