Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo not resting on his laurels

Welcome to the 2019-20 edition of the Bucks Weekly Spotlight. Each Thursday we’ll track the progress of the players who are trying to help Milwaukee make a championship run, give updates on other players from the previous week and sometimes take a look at who is lighting it up for the Wisconsin Herd.

This is the inaugural edition of the 2019-20 Bucks Weekly Spotlight

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SPOTLIGHT ON …

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo

Coming off an MVP season, it was fair to wonder what Antetokounmpo could do for an encore and how could he improve on his performance from last year.

Eight games into the season and we’ve quickly found out.

Antetokounmpo has posted a double-double in every Bucks game thus far in the young 2019-20 season. Only five times since 1983-84 has a Bucks player put together a streak as long, or longer, than eight games – and Antetokounmpo has three of those, including one of 10 games which stretched over two seasons (Moses Malone and Jack Sikma both had nine-game double-double streaks).

Giannis is getting to the free-throw line more this season, too. He’s averaging 11.5 attempts per game (his previous season high is 9.5 last year). He’s had 10+ free-throw attempts in five straight games, one shy of the longest streak in franchise history, set by himself last year from Jan. 14-29 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from Feb. 12-20, 1972.

But, of course, perhaps the most impressive thing about Antetokounmpo this season already are his raw numbers, and how his averages are all better than last year (when, he, you know, won the MVP).

Last season, Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals while shooting 57.8% from the field (64.1% on 2s, 25.6% on 3s). After eight games, he’s at 29.0 points, 14.3 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.3 steals and 59.2% shooting (67.9% on 2s, 26.7% on 3s).

If those averages seem otherworldly, well, they are.

Here’s all the players in NBA history who have averaged 29+ points, 14+ rebounds and 7+ assists in a season:

 

OK, you say, but he really can’t keep up those averages over a full season. Maybe, maybe not. But we’ll play along. So, here’s all the players in NBA history who have averaged 28+ points, 13+ rebounds and 6+ assists in a season:

 

Only six times in history has a player averaged 27+ points, 12+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a season. Elgin Baylor was the first to do it in 1960-61 and Oscar Robertson repeated the feat the next season. Wilt Chamberlain accomplished it in 1963-64 and 1965-66 and a decade later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the next to do it.

No one since Kareem had done it until last year – when Giannis did it. And now he’s taking his game to another level.

Oh, and Giannis is averaging fewer minutes this season compared to last (32.3 to 32.8). MVP, indeed.

BUCKSHOTS

— Veteran guard George Hill didn’t start for the Bucks during the regular season after coming over from Cleveland in a trade. He’s continuing to come off the bench in 2019-20 and he’s producing. Hill averaged 20.4 minutes and 6.8 points in 47 games last season with the Bucks. In Milwaukee’s first eight games, his playing time has increased (22.9 minutes) as well as his scoring (11.4 points). Hill is especially knocking down 3-pointers, averaging 1.9 makes per game (this would tie his career high set in 2016-17) while making 60.0% of his attempts, which is second in the NBA. Hill has made a 3 in all eight games and had a career-high six in Wednesday’s win over the Clippers. By the way, Hill also leads the NBA in Offensive Rating (148.5).

— Speaking of 3s … Kyle Korver is averaging 2.4 makes per game – he averaged 2.0 last season and 2.2 in 2017-18 – despite playing only 16.6 minutes per game, which would be his least playing time since he was a rookie back in 2003-04 (11.9 mpg). Korver is making 48.6% of his 3 attempts. Not too shabby for someone who turns 39 in March.

— Lopez watch: Brook is third in the NBA in blocks with 20 and fourth in blocks per game at 2.5. Robin has attempted 16 3-pointers and made three. Last year he set a career high with seven makes and 31 attempts. Welcome to the Bucks.

— Pat Connaughton has committed just one turnover in 118 minutes. His 2.5% turnover percentage leads the NBA.

— Donte DiVincenzo made just 26.5% of his 3-point attempts as a rookie (22 of 83). In the early going this year, he’s at 50.0% (9 of 18).