Giannis Antetokounmpo is an offensive force of nature: He’s averaging 27.2 points a game on 58.1 percent shooting (and a true shooting percentage of 63.8 — he’s ridiculously efficient). He gets to the rim at will, taking 59.2 percent of his shots inside the restricted area, hitting 64 percent of those. Nobody can stay in front of the man. Antetokounmpo is an MVP candidate, first-team All-NBA level player who got the most fan votes of any player in the East for the All-Star Game for a reason.
After Antetokounmpo dropped 33 on the Pacers as part of a triple-double (33 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists) in a Bucks’ win Wednesday night he was asked about the defense of Thaddeus Young on him, and the Greek Freak was honest.
“Oh, come on man. Thaddeus Young, he’s a great guy, first of all. Amazing player, amazing teammate, plays hard. At the end of the day, I’m not trying to sound arrogant and cocky because that’s not who I am, but I don’t think there’s one guy that can stop me. It’s going to be a whole team effort. They’ve got to load, they’ve got to double-team me. When I get to the paint, three guys swarm at me. That’s the only way. They’ve got to all work together to stop me from making plays—not getting points, from making plays. But he’s a great defensive guy.”
He’s not wrong.
Young and his Pacer teammates have the second best defensive rating in the NBA this season and they couldn’t slow Antetokounmpo. Young, in particular, is a quality defender who holds opponents below their usual shooting percentage, but there’s only so much he can do against the Greek Freak.
That’s true of any of the league’s great scorers — James Harden, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Paul George, etc. No one defender is locking any of those guys up. It takes a well-executed team game plan, and even then Harden’s going to score 30 or more. Because that’s what he does.
That’s also why we tune in as fans — to see the freaks of nature like Antetokounmpo put on a show. That’s why we’ll be watching the All-Star game this weekend (although nobody is trying to play defense there).