Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t shoot the ball particularly well against the Portland Trailblazers.
He was 9-of-27 from the floor, just one-of-seven from beyond the three point line and missed five of his 10 free throw attempts.
That’s why the following statement may sound hyperbolic, or simply insane, but truthfully it’s neither.
Giannis Antetokounmpo absolutely dominated the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday night win over the Damian Lillard-less Blazers.
The reigning league MVP scored 24 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and dished out a career high 15 assists.
“He’s underrated (as a distributor),” Eric Bledsoe said of Antetokounmpo’s overall game. “He does a great job of feeling out the defense. Every game is different, they always pack the paint and somehow he always finds a way to score 30.
“You just got to rely on your team some nights and he did a hell of a job tonight doing that. That says for most superstars, most superstars don’t distribute when you have to and he did a great of that.”
Antetokounmpo really plays position-less basketball. Often times he’ll bring the ball up the floor, but you can also find him dominating the paint. For the sake of an official roster, he’s listed as a forward. And as a forward, tonight’s stat line puts him in some elite company.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the @Bucks is the first NBA forward to have a 15-point, 15-rebound, 15-assist game since Boston's Larry Bird on April 1, 1987, against the Bullets (30 points, 17 rebounds, 15 assists).#FearTheDeer
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) November 22, 2019
“On the night I couldn’t get going offensively, shots weren’t falling, they were showing a lot of crowds, that’s what I try to, I try to find my teammates,” Antetokounmpo said of his career day passing. “My teammates were in the right spot, they were able to knock down shots, drive the ball hard and to roll hard and that’s why the number came to 15 assists.
“I just do half of the work and my teammates do the rest.”
Four of his assists came in the fourth quarter, including a kick to Brook Lopez who buried a 30-foot three-pointer to help spark the Bucks final surge towards victory.
The Greek Freak also passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the Bucks all-time assist leader board, moving into seventh with 2009 career dimes.
“I think he can average a triple-double, honestly,” Bledsoe added. “Especially if we make shots. He’s been doing a hell of a job keeping pressure on that basket, and that’s going to draw like five defenders and he do a great job of finding us.
“Once we start knocking those down consistently it could be a lot more scary for him getting in the paint.”
Antetokounmpo joked that he was “so touched” by Bledsoe’s sentiment. “I’m happy with where I am at. I’m happy with where the team is at,” he said.
“We can only get better. One of our best players is not playing. So we just have to keep going.”
The only players to record minutes for the Bucks and not hit a three were Pat Connaughton and Ersan Ilyasova. Connaughton finished the game with 18 points off the bench, including this sure to be SportsCenter top-10 put back jam.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 22, 2019
Milwaukee will now play 11 of their next 14 games at home after playing on the road for 10 of their first 14 games of the season.