In the latest Open Floor Podcast, Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver take a look at the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo and how Jason Kidd is utilizing his otherworldly talent.
Andrew Sharp: You had some advice for Giannis that you discussed with me offline, and unsolicited advice for Giannis Antetokounmpo has become a specialty of our podcast. So why don’t you tell people what you think needs to happen next in Milwaukee.
Ben Golliver: One of these days I’m going to get in trouble for this, when you just take my text messages and ask me to read them on the air. This is how half serious and half born of pure frustration watching some of these Bucks games, but for Giannis Inc. and him to really take it to the next level and become that superstar player, doesn’t he need to initiate a coaching change?
It does seem a little bit like Jason Kidd’s offense is holding him back. For having the skillset that he has, I don’t understand why they play so slow and they get out in transition as infrequently as they do. It’s like every single one of his dunks in transition goes viral because they’re all so beautiful and they should be happening like twice as often as they do. And there’s sometimes you’ll notice that he’s hopping up and down with his hands up, hoping to have someone give him the outlet pass so he can take off and push and they still don’t run quite enough. Their thing is they’re terrible rebounding and yet they play bigs a lot. And it’s like, if you’re already going to be horrible at rebounding, why not get super whacky and creative? Have Giannis be what I refer to as the puberty ball center.
Sharp: Hold on… Can you explain puberty ball? You dropped that on me a couple days ago. I didn’t even want to respond to learn more, but what are you talking about there?
Golliver: So like in middle school, the one kid goes through puberty. So he’s the best player so he gets to be the point guard on offense, but then he’s also the tallest guy so he’s the center on defense. It’s sort of like in baseball, where he’s the pitcher but he also bats cleanup.
Sharp: That’s a good way to describe Giannis’s relationship to most of the players he’s playing against.
Golliver: Or with, really. I think a lot of these bigs are useless. Get them out of there and let’s get really unconventional and creative, surround Giannis with as many shooters as you can find and maybe they don’t have enough. That certainly looks like it’s a problem. They just don’t go deep enough with those wings. But turn them loose. If teams like Orlando and Indiana have enjoyed so much early success from running and gunning, and they don’t have anyone approach Giannis’s talent level, why is that the style that Milwaukee’s kind of clinging to? I guess the thing I worry about is that they have a very new front office there. There’s not really a clear place for Giannis to go to hash out these concerns. Does he even have these thoughts in his head? Is it too early to call for Kidd here?
Sharp: What I like, though, is that you’re not just calling for the Bucks to fire Jason Kidd, you’re calling for Giannis to go to the Bucks and make them fire Jason Kidd, which is a different thing. I love it, and you sold me with your Jordan, Magic and LeBron comparisons. Dead on, it is the next step. I told you about this before the season, I was worried about the Bucks because of Jason Kidd and because of that supporting cast. They do have like three or four big men, it’s kind of amazing that this team also used to have [Miles] Plumlee on there, too. It’s just built wrong. Ideally they can flip Greg Monroe for another wing somehow. John Henson has played pretty well so they don’t want to give him away. There’s just too much size there and not enough depth in the backcourt. I will say, though, I’m really glad you brought me back from Bucks skepticism, because even in the games the Bucks aren’t winning—against Charlotte on Wednesday night and OKC really looked good against Milwaukee on Tuesday night—even in those games, Giannis still is so incredible that I can’t believe I ever soured on this team. But I will say that I soured on Bucks because watching them kind of fart around Giannis is pretty frustrating.
Golliver: I’ve been hard on the Thunder all preseason, all season, but they defended Giannis brilliantly. They did well to contain him, to make his life difficult. They did so well that I felt guilty about my Thunder criticism. I actually texted Royce Young sort of as penance during that game. I was like, Royce, ‘These guys are stopping Giannis.’ You know I’ve been attending church every single game the Bucks play, and I have not seen anyone lock him up the way that they did. So I was like congratulations. Make sure you play that up was my message to him, and Giannis still basically had 30. And that’s the kind of talent that they’re dealing with. It kind of takes me back to the two paths: How Houston built around Harden, how Chicago built around Butler. Let’s take Giannis’s unbelievable scoring and playmaking potential and spread it out completely, turn and get up and down the court, make him a nightly phenomenon, where things are coming much easier than they have at points this season. I’m not sure Kidd has that level of creativity in him, I’m not sure he’s built like that.
Sharp: And you’re right to be skeptical. So we’ll see where it goes.
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