December 23, 2013
By Alex Boeder
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a peach.
The dunks, the blocks, the antlers, the hands, the interviews, the name, the game, the game, the game.
Just a peach.
The other night, the 19 year-old started. Actually, make that three starts in a row. The #15 draft pick has vaulted into the starting lineup and into the top three or four of almost any “2013 re-draft” discussion. Even nicer?
This peach is still green.
Greener than the new court in Milwaukee.
Greener than the bills he is going to get in a few years.
Greener than holly.
Holiday Wish List
And so at least one wish is already coming true this holiday season.
Six more wishes out of seven point seven million wishes:
John Henson has improved in nearly every way here in his sophomore NBA year. In a snap, he is a top ten shot-blocker and arguably the most efficient offensive and defensive player on the team so far this season. As his minutes have risen, his per-minute numbers have actually shot up as well. In the absence of Larry Sanders (and Zaza Pachulia and, well, pretty much everyone), he has helped hold down a loose frontcourt fort. This is all swell.
It also begs the question: Can Henson co-exist – thrive even – with Sanders in the frontcourt? The two have shared the court at the same time for just 109 minutes in their NBA lives (two minutes this season). The results are inconclusive. For now, they share a lot of the same strengths (ex: shot-blocking) and weaknesses (ex: shooting outside eight feet). So, are they both better off sharing the frontcourt with a court-spacer like Ersan Ilyasova, or is there something here? Either way, would be nice to find out.
Speaking of Ilyasova, the power forward is off to his slowest start since well… last season, sort of. Bugged by an ankle injury, his shooting numbers (and really, all numbers) are way down across the board. Then again, we saw almost the same thing last year, when he shot 34.9 % from the field in November.
But he had heated up by December, and stayed hot throughout the rest of the year. This January, I will gladly take last January’s shooting lines: .459 / .511 / .765. Yes, the middle number is three-point percentage.
Three for Three
About those three-pointers. More, please.
The Bucks rank a respectable 14th in three-point percentage despite Ilyasova’s slow start, but they are just 20th in three-point shot attempts. As we know, The Best Things in Life Are Three. Milwaukee’s offense ranks last in the NBA. It doesn’t need to.
If the Bucks only win two more games this season, it would be fine as long as those were two wins against the Bulls. Even a 78-74 game is memorable when that is a 78-74 win in Chicago. After that win, the Bulls came to Milwaukee three days later and, naturally, old friend Mike Dunleavy banked in a game-winning three to win it for Chicago.
The Bulls game in Milwaukee ended the same way that Bulls games in Milwaukee always seem to end… with: 1) dozens of offensive rebounds for Bulls frontcourt players I don’t want to even name because it is too soon 2) me being angry or pretending not to be angry because “I am accustomed to it”. But here’s the thing: Chicago fans take the road trip, and that makes Milwaukee fans cheer a little louder for their team than usual. Even though the games are often frustrating, they are always something. Because…
Fans, Over Here
Fans underrate themselves. Games are mostly fun because of what happens on the court. But games are also fun because of you (when you are around). It is fun to rise with a team, but it is also meaningful to fall with a team. And you can’t technically rise with a team if you weren’t around for the rise.
Back in 2011-12, the Pacers ranked 29th in attendance. That team had a young Paul George and a young Roy Hibbert. They ended up with the three seed in the East. They went up 2-1 on the Heat in the playoffs. Point is: Let’s not say we are waiting around for a young superstar or two, or for the team to break into serious contention, and assume… “yeah, we’ll all show up then, promise”.
Let the Warriors and Trail Blazers – teams with consistent top 10 attendance numbers in spite of winning nothing this century – be our envy, our aspiration. (Also: Look at how much fun they are having now.)
Update: The Jazz (worst record in West) are averaging more fans than the Pacers (best record in East) this season.
On the subject of encouraging you to attend games: This peach is still green.
Greener than good luck.
Greener than an evergreen in a living room.
Greener than Litterial Green.
Writing and the Bucks. Two of my passions. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009. I started writing for the Bucks in 2012. Before that, I co-founded and wrote for BrewHoop. I have written for the Milwaukee Brewers, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, and so on. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.