Bucks GM touts Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ability to play center

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Bucks coach Jason Kidd kicked around the idea of playing Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard last year, though didn’t really go anywhere beyond the preseason. Antetokounmpo spent most of his minutes on the wing.

He could reach the other end of the positional spectrum this season.

Milwaukee general manager John Hammond on The Baseline NBA Podcast (hat tip: Frank Madden of Brew Hoop):

I love the thought of small-ball for us. Potentially, if there’s ever a matchup situation where you say “OK, they’re going to go small, how do we match up with that”” whoever that team may be, I think you play Giannis Antetokounmpo at center. And he’s 6-foot-11, so it’s not really small-ball per se, but his ball skills and know-how of how to play will give us the ability to do that. And I think that could be a really fun team to watch someday if you do look at small-ball theory.

Antetokounmpo played 98% of his minutes last season with at least one teammate – Zaza Pachulia, Larry Sanders, John Henson, Johnny O’Bryant, Miles Plumlee, Kenyon Martin, Ersan Ilyasova – who was clearly more of a center than him. Even in the other 2%, Antetokounmpo didn’t handle center responsibilities clearly more frequently than players like Jared Dudley and Jabari Parker.

So, this would be a big shift for the third-year player.

But Antetokounmpo has the tools to make it work. He has tremendous length and good shot-blocking timing. The Bucks like to switch and trap, so he wouldn’t have to defend like a traditional center, either. Offensively, he could pull opposing bigs all the way to the 3-point arc and slash and dish against a strained defense.

Antetokounmpo doesn’t have the bulk to play center over long stretches, but against the right opponents, he could do it. As the league gets smaller, it’s a nice option for Milwaukee.

And it’s darn sure exciting to watch a player who can legitimately play any position 1-5.