An NBA analyst claims that Giannis Antetokounmpo needs to have a Kobe Bryant type player as a teammate during crunch time.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks have had a tough schedule the past few games. They faced off against the new look Brooklyn Nets a couple of nights back. Today they were tasked with taking down the number one seed in the West, the Los Angeles Lakers, tonight.
Giannis and the Bucks lost against both of these heavyweights by a margin of less than 10 points. The game against the Brooklyn Nets was decided by a missed fadeaway 3 from the corner by Khris Middleton.
The Nets game was all Khris Middleton down the stretch as he made almost all the crunch time shots for the Bucks. This brings up the question of Giannis’s ability to close out games.
Giannis Antetokounmpo needs a Kobe-esque closer on his team
After claiming two MVPs and receiving several All-NBA and All-Star nods, Giannis has cemented himself as one of the NBA greats. The 26 year old still has a lot more to prove however. His ability to close out games would be one of those.
Giannis barely attempted a shot when it mattered most against James Harden and the Nets. Middleton did all the heavy lifting and almost carried them to the win.
In last night’s game against LeBron and the Lakers, Giannis did handle the ball more in crunch time. But he also had 9 turnovers to go along with 25 points. This included one crucial turnover with less than a minute remaining in the game.
Zach Kram, NBA writer for The Ringer, calls for Giannis to accept that he cannot be a closer on a team. He drew parallels between Giannis’s situation and Shaq’s situation with Kobe Bryant on the early 2000s Lakers teams.
It was understood on those Lakers teams that when it was crunch time, Kobe needed the ball in his hands to make plays. Giannis isn’t a threat to shoot from range. It is quite hard for him to make plays down the stretch as the defense knows he’ll try to attach the rim.
Middleton could be the Kobe to Giannis’s Shaq. It remains to be seen if Giannis can develop his shot in a way that can make him more potent on offense during crunch time.