Raptors expose Giannis’ offensive limitations

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Raptors expose Giannis’ offensive limitations
May 30
08:39 2019

The Toronto Raptors are headed to the NBA finals for the first time in team history. After falling behind 0-2 to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors ran off four straight victories to move on and face the two-time champion Golden State Warriors in the finals, starting tonight.

Milwaukee was the best team, record wise, in the NBA during the regular season. They strolled through the playoffs, entering the Eastern Conference finals.  They looked to be well on their way to the NBA finals after winning the first two games of the series, but Toronto made the necessary defensive adjustments entering game three and Milwaukee was never able to recover.

The biggest adjustment that was made by Nick Nurse, head coach of the Raptors, and the player was Giannis Antetokounmpo. During the first two games of the series, Giannis was able to freely drive to the basket to either score or kick to open shooters. Toronto also switched Kawhi Leonard onto Antetokounmpo as his primary defender after game two, which totally changed the complexion of the series.

With Leonard as his primary defender, Antetokounmpo’s offensive shortcomings were on full display. The Raptors also began to collapse on him as he drove to the basket and quickly closed out on shooters. That recipe proved to be the correct one, as the Bucks could not find a way to adjust.

The main reason was that Giannis just does not have enough offensive weaponry in his arsenal. He is a dynamic player in the open court, along with being a force driving to the basket. What Toronto was able to prove was that Giannis does not have any post moves on the block. He must develop some sort of post-game to give the defense another look.

We have long known Antetokounmpo does not have a consistent jump shot, so with him being limited in the post, he can be limited with the right defensive strategy. There have been many star players that came into the league without a jump shot, but they developed one over time. LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and Leonard were all inconsistent jump shooters their first few years in the league and developed to become good to above average shooters.

James has even incorporated a post-up game to go in his repertoire of skills. Antetokounmpo must continue to develop his game so he can reach his full potential. In my opinion, he still is the league MVP this season, but if he wants to add an NBA championship to his mantle, he must broaden his game.

Once Giannis has a jump shot that the defense must respect and a few post moves, he will be almost unstoppable. Every superstar had to go through growing pains like this before they reached the pinnacle. At 24 years of age, Antetokounmpo has not even reached his prime, but he will be a scary player once he does.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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