Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart elucidates what makes Giannis Antetokounmpo one of the toughest players he has ever guarded.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most dominant players the league has ever seen. Rightfully nicknamed “The Greek Freak”, the Bucks forward is a tough force to reckon with on both sides of the paint. Being a two-way superstar, Giannis is well-equipped with all the abilities to be a pest on the defensive end and score points at will, offensively.
At only 26 years of age, Giannis has put up an incredible Hall-Of-Fame type resume. Over a span of 8 years, the 6-foot-11 has made 5 All-Star appearances, 5 All-NBA selections, 4 All-Defensive selections, the 2017 MIP, 2-time MVP, a DPOY, and even won his first championship this past season while lifting the Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy.
Numerous top defenders have tried, and failed, to prevent Antetokounmpo from erupting for a 40-point double-double performance. Marcus Smart, one of the better guard defenders in the NBA, is just one of many who the Milwaukee star has lit up.
“Giannis Antetokounmpo is ridiculously long, athletic and strong enough to get through contact”: Marcus Smart
Back in 2019, Marcus Smart was asked to pen down the toughest players he had ever guarded. Alongside naming Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, the Boston two-way guard even mentioned Giannis to that list.
While giving some high compliments to the 2021 Finals MVP, Smart even explained why the Bucks leader was such a tough assignment defensively. In his “The Players’ Tribune” article, Marcus revealed:
“Another 7-footer with guard-like skills. But Giannis is different. He’s out of this world. Yes, he can handle the ball like a guard. With his wingspan, the way he can manipulate the ball and get you chasing it one way before coming back with it. Because he’s also quick like a guard, so he can cross you if he catches you leaning … man, it’s special.
Plus, he’s also ridiculously long and athletic. So where it takes most people four or five steps to get to the basket from the three-point line, it only takes Giannis like three. Plus he can jump out of the gym. Plus he’s strong enough to get through contact, so you can’t body him.
I could go on all day, man. They call him the Greek Freak for a reason. He’s literally a freak of nature. I’ve never seen a player with his combination of size and skill.
So the only thing you can really do with him is stay up in him and force him to shoot — make him try to beat you from the outside. Force him to his weakness. At the end of the day, he’s going to get his. He’s too talented not to.
My job is just to minimize the damage and make it as difficult for him as possible”