The 2018-2019 has been a season to remember for Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks have finished with the NBA’s best record and he is a part of the most closely contested MVP race in recent memory. Giannis has a legit chance to also win Defensive Player of the Year as well something that has not been done since 1987-1988 season when Michael Jordan achieved this great feat.
How does Giannis’s great season compare to Jordan’s great season? Let’s first look at the offensive numbers both traditional and the advanced.
Giannis is currently third in scoring averaging 27.7 points per game. Jordan led the league in scoring averaging 35 points per game. The year prior he also led the league in scoring averaging 37 points per game.It is well established that Jordan is one of the best scorers the league has ever seen it’s important to point out that Giannis is only attempting 17 shots a game. Jordan was attempting 24 shots a game. Giannis is shooting a higher percentage on fewer shots shooting 57 percent to Jordan’s 53 percent.
Giannis is currently second in free throw attempts shooting a total of 674 while attempting 9.5 free throws a game. Jordan was also finished second in free throw attempts with a total 860 and attempted 10.5 per game. Jordan was first in offensive win shares Giannis is third. When it comes to the “Holy Grail” of advanced stats PER (Player Efficiency Rating) Both men finished first. Giannis has a PER of 30.7, and Jordan’s PER was 31.7. This stat shows that these two players had the most effective, productive, all-around season than any other player that season. Giannis has the 12th highest PER in league history, while Jordan’s ranks third behind the great Wilt Chamberlain.
Giannis has been just as dominate on the defensive end of the floor and the numbers back it up as well. He is first in defensive rating, he is second in defensive plus-minus, he is third in defensive win shares, he is averaging a block and a half a game, and a steal and a half a game. With numbers like these he is a shoe end for All-NBA defensive first team. How did Jordan’s season compare? He was sixth in defensive rating, third in defensive win shares, and first in steals with an astounding average of 3.2 per game. He was named to the All-NBA defensive first team. Big men have historically dominated the defensive end, but just like Jordan before him Giannis is dominating the defensive end from the wing position.
What makes Giannis season so amazing is that he is only playing 32.9 minutes a game and is fifth in overall usage. Jordan’s usage rate was second that season and he was playing an unbelievable 40 minutes a game. Giannis has been so dominant on both ends of the floor that it should not be surprising that he is first in win shares per 48 minutes, and second in overall win shares. Jordan finished his dominant season first in win shares and first in win shares per 48 minutes.
The last thing these two greats have in common and yes Giannis is a great already, is the fact they do not shoot a lot of threes. In the age of the three point shot and spacing the floor, Giannis only attempted 203 three pointers this season making 52 for a percentage of 25%. Jordan played in an era where the 3 point shot didn’t have much value. Jordan in that season only attempted 53 three pointers making only seven.
Just to show how different the game is now compared to the era Jordan played in Michael Adams for the Denver Nuggets led the league in attempts. He attempted 379 for the season that is only 129 more attempts than Giannis. James Harden leads the NBA with 1028 attempts. You have to get all the way down to the 313 player which is Raymond Felton who has only played in 32 games to find a player who has attempted the same about of three pointers as Jordan.
Giannis is throwback to Jordan’s era attacking the basket and scoring in the paint at ferocity this league hasn’t seen since Jordan’s era. He doesn’t settle for the jump shot when he has bigger players on him. He still uses his size, his footwork to euro step his way to the basket, and finish with a dunk using either hand. Because of his power teams have often have centers guarding him. Rudy Gobert of the Jazz and Joel Embiid of the 76ers routinely matched up against Giannis. He is still able to attack the basket and finish over and often times trough them. Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, and Allen Iverson are the only players that come to mind that attacked the basket with the same fervor as Giannis.
Giannis season passes the eye test on why he should be taken seriously as the MVP and the DOPY. In this case the numbers don’t lie he has all of the stats both advanced and traditional backing up his impressive season. With the nickname the “Greek Freak” is should be no surprise that Giannis Antetokounmpo has put himself in position to accomplish something freakish and mind blogging that has only been achieved once in NBA history.