Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo revealed on December 15th that he signed the super-maximum extension a year before free agency because he wanted to take away any potential storylines about him leaving the franchise. Antetokounmpo told ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth that he didn’t want to put the organization through an entire season of speculation on if he was leaving as his goal is to win a championship with the franchise:
“I didn’t want the pressure on my teammates and my coaching staff… Going out there and losing a game, and people are talking about ‘Oh, he’s leaving. Oh, he’s staying. Oh, they didn’t play well. Oh, he’s out of there.’ That’s adding more pressure to what we’re trying to accomplish here. The goal is to win a championship.”
Let’s take a look at how the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2020 offseason moves have set Giannis Antetokounmpo up to fail in the 2021 playoffs
Unfortunately, the organization hurt Antetokounmpo’s ability to win a championship this season before he signed the extension. Milwaukee gave up Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, two first-round picks and two pick swaps in a four-team trade on Nov. 16 to acquire Jrue Holiday. Less than two hours later, the Bucks had an agreement in place to acquire restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanović from the Kings in exchange for D.J Wilson, Donte DiVincenzo and Ersan Ilyasova.
Sadly, the Bogdanović deal fell apart within a week as a rival team filed a tempering complaint to the league as Bucks Governor Marc Lasary bragged about the trade for a pending restricted free agent before free agency began. Consequently, Milwaukee was left with DiVincenzo and Holiday, both players who are an awkward fit alongside Antetokounmpo in the team’s current system.
Budenholzer has implemented an offensive system revolving around transition, isolation and post-up possessions. The Bucks are currently leading the league in transition possessions averaging 22.6 per game. Budenholzer has handed 30.5 percent of the team’s transition possessions to Antetokounmpo as he is averaging 6.9 per game. The Bucks are also fourth in the league in isolation possessions averaging 9.4 per game.
Antetokounmpo has taken 45.8 percent of the isolation possessions, averaging 4.3 per game in 54 appearances. Lastly, Milwaukee is currently fourth in post-up possessions averaging 7.5 per game. Milwaukee has given him 44.0 percent of the team’s post-up possessions as he is averaging 3.3 per game.
Milwaukee’s offensive system has forced Holiday and DiVincenzo to spend most of their minutes as floor spacers. They have taken at least 33.7 percent of their shots from behind the arc averaging 4.6 and 5.1 per game, respectively. At least 43.5 percent of those attempts have been catch and shoots as they are averaging 2.0 and 3.6 per game, respectively.
They have excelled as shooters this season, converting 39.2 and 39.3 percent of their catch and shoots, respectively. Catch and shoots played a vital role in both currently shooting 38.7 and 37.5 percent from behind the arc.
Their shooting statistics have helped the team flourish when they shared the floor with Antetokounmpo as the backcourt is shooting 38.5 percent from behind the arc on 11.7 attempts. Three-pointers are responsible for 42.5 percent of the field goals as the Bucks are shooting 51.5 percent from the field on 27.5 shots per game. The shooting percentage has allowed them to outscore opponents by 4.1 points per game as they are averaging 37.8 points per game in 14.4 minutes.
Unfortunately, it is unknown whether they can maintain the performance as both players have subpar to mediocre shooting track record. Holiday was an inconsistent catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter in the five seasons before arriving in Milwaukee.
He made 35.6,30.1, 39.5, 35.4, and 36.4 percent of the attempts, respectively, on an average of 1.7 threes per game. The inconsistency played a role in him shooting 34.1 percent from behind the arc on 4.7 attempts per game.
DiVincenzo fared worse than Holiday from behind the arc as he made 32.1 percent of his catch and shoot looks on 2.5 attempts. The catch and shoot statistics dramatically affected his 3-point shooting numbers as it accounted for 74.3 percent of the attempts. Consequently, DiVincenzo made 31.8 percent of the shots on 3.5 attempts.
If DiVincenzo and Holiday regress to the mean, speculation will begin on if Antetokounmpo should demand a trade. Therefore, the team should have surrounded Antetokounmpo with more consistent shooting track records to put a tighter lid on chatter that he is going to leave the franchise.