On September 2nd, 2020 the 5th seed Miami Heat took a 2-0 lead against the 1st seed, Milwaukee Bucks. Now, before we continue, let’s flashback to December 19th when the Bucks played the Los Angeles Lakers.
With 9 minutes and 5 seconds left in the game, the Green Freak hit a transition three, putting his team up 98-84 in what would eventually become a 111-104 win. After that three, Lakers coach, Frank Vogel called a timeout. On his way back to the bench, Giannis proceeded to crown himself the King, a gentle jab at Lebron James stating “I’m the King now”. Giannis, the reigning league MVP, this year’s defensive player of the year, and self-proclaimed “King” of the league currently has his back against the wall against a 5th seeded Heat team. Let’s explain how we got here.
In Game One of the second round against the Heat, the Bucks fell, 115-104. Giannis had a near triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. BUT, Giannis, the self-proclaimed “King” and reigning league MVP only shot the ball a mere 12 times. His teammate, Khris Middleton shot the ball 24 times.. literally DOUBLE the amount than The Freak. If you want to wear the King’s crown, you need to get all that comes with it, which includes the scrutiny. If Lebron as a one seed only took 12 shots and lost against a five seed in game one in the second round of the playoffs, the media would be tearing him limb from limb.
Now don’t listen to what I’m not saying, Giannis is a VERY good basketball player, but if you’re willing to crown yourself, you need to be looked at much more closely. In Game One, Giannis lacked what we would call the late Kobe Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality”. Does he have it? Is he capable of just demanding the ball and saying “get out of my way”? I haven’t seen it yet.
The Miami Heat beat the Bucks twice in the regular season. Once without Jimmy Butler, and it took Butler and Dragic both being injured for the Bucks to beat the Heat in their lone win against them this season. The Miami Heat match up very well against Giannis with multiple bodies they can throw at him. During game one, there were too many possessions where Giannis didn’t touch the ball, and it seemed as if he was content on not being able to do what he wanted to do when he was on the floor. When the Heat limits his offensive game to more of a half-court setting, Giannis’s offensive production takes a MASSIVE nosedive. If you’re the MVP, if you’re the “King”, you demand the ball in the playoffs and say “get out of my way, I got this”.
Again, he had a near triple-double, but if you’re going to wear the crown, get used to these things. If Lebron scored just 3 points in the 4th quarter on 1-4 shooting from the field, 1-4 from the line with three turnovers, the media would be going nuts, yet we barely heard of such a word after game one.
His words after the game in a press conference has me questioning what kind of player he is as well.
After a reporter asked Giannis if he wanted to switch on Jimmy Butler, he responded with “No, I didn’t. Why would you ask that?” And later on, said that he would do whatever his coach told him to do. Richard Jefferson took my thoughts on that exchange and compiled it into a tweet, here:
If you’re this season’s DPOY, if you’re the reigning MVP, If you’re the “king” you step up and decide to guard the man who is dropping a playoff career-high 40 points against you.
Jefferson took to Twitter after the Bucks 116-114 game two loss to Miami heat with another opinion on the reigning MVP.
Game two against the Miami Heat, Giannis responded well with a 29 point, 14 rebounds, 3 assist night. For all you box score plus-minus truthers out there, he had a -7 plus/minus.
There were questionable calls throughout the game, most notably Goran Dragic’s foul call when he didn’t move and stood straight up on Khris Middleton and Giannis’s foul call on Jimmy Butler, as he merely just touched Jimmy Butler on his back after the contest on his way down. It was minimal contact.
Both plays dictated and affected the game, and were horrid calls, but the right team won. If you didn’t look at the scoreboard all night you would’ve thought Miami was up by 10-15 points as they appeared to be on cruise control. Jimmy Butler only had 13 points total all game, and this Heat team still was in control for the majority of the game. Also, the Bucks shot 7 more free throws than the Heat in game two. There was bad officiating all around and it definitely impacted the game at the end, but the team that played and was better won game two.
You can’t be crowned a king and only take twelve shots in game one the eastern conference semifinals, and lose while letting your opponent torch you for a new career playoff-high 40 points. You’re the reigning MVP (And could very well have his second soon) and DPOY. You can’t sit back and only take twelve shots. Also, the league’s best defender shouldn’t guard the opposing team’s best player having a career game because your coach didn’t tell you to.
Giannis has obvious holes in his game. He’s a fantastic player, but once you limit him in transition and force him to play from a halfcourt setting, he struggles big time due in large part to his shooting woes. Miami has the right personnel and defensive gameplan to contain Giannis, and his skillset and mindset are keeping him from being the best player in the NBA. When he’s rolling, he’s unstoppable. When he’s not, he has shown to be inept at being able to carry his team out of a hole and drag them to a victory. Is the MVP, DPOY, and newly crowned “king” just too young, and he will learn to take over games as he matures or is Giannis better suited as a Robin, needing an alpha in certain moments?
Again, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a fantastic player and is easily in the argument of “Who’s the best player in the NBA”, but if you’re going to crown yourself king, your standards are going to be higher. With all of his aforementioned accolades, as his self crowning, he deserves to be looked at closely under a microscope and critiqued, just as we do Lebron. Keep your eyes on the rest of the series, as we very well could be watching Giannis’s legacy being ever so slightly tarnished if he doesn’t show more assertiveness in this series.
What do you guys think? Does Giannis have that Mama mentality in him to take over a game? Do you think Richard Jefferson is right and he’s more of a “Robin” type of player? Is he overrated? Should his standards be so high? Leave a comment down below with your thoughts!