I don’t remember too many people criticizing Shaquille O’Neal for not being a closer. And that’s who Giannis Antetokounmpo is closer to than other comparisons, a modern-day Shaq.
This entire postseason run, the one word I’d use to describe Giannis is the same one most often used in reference to the Diesel, dominant. Shaq did actually receive similar criticisms about a lack of skill, but there was no denying his greatness, just like there’s no denying the force the Greek Freak has become.
Of course, Giannis approaches the game in a different way with the ball in his hands outside the paint far more often, but statistically, his impact is looking very much the same. He just put up his 9th 30-point, 10-rebound game of the postseason, which is the most any player has had since O’Neal in 2000. His averages in this Bucks run of 29 points on 55% shooting to go with 13 rebounds and 5 assists also happen to align very favorably with Shaq’s from his Lakers heyday.
Which is why it was big for him to admit that he doesn’t mind deferring to Khris Middleton down the stretch, as any great big needs elite perimeter support, and Middleton playing a tier above where he was generally placed has changed everything for Milwaukee.
But make no mistake about it, Giannis is the reason the Bucks are in this position.
So it’s time for anyone who was talking about his lack of a bag to bag it, as he has received far too much flak for what he isn’t rather than recognition for what he is...which has already resulted in two MVPs and perhaps soon an NBA championship.