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Antetokounmpo Ready To Make Strides In Second Season

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He could have been forgiven for wanting to take his foot off the pedal in the Milwaukee Bucks’ second-to-last preseason game against the New York Knicks, perhaps rest up over the final two games to prepare for a grueling regular season schedule, but there stood Giannis Antetokounmpo, all 6’11 inches of him, two hours before tip-off at the foul line shooting free-throws.

Two bounces, shoot, swish. Repeat.

Antetokounmpo entered the NBA with muted expectations last season, a curiosity to many observers who marveled at his raw talent. The Greek has been blessed with a unique skill set unusual for a man his size – the length of a center, the quickness of a swingman, and the court-vision of a guard – but at times during his rookie campaign he struggled with inconsistency, finishing the season with averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds in 24.6 minutes per game.

His shot chart numbers were mostly below the league average as his output steadily declined from January to the end of the season.

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You could probably attribute the decline to hitting the rookie wall, but that didn’t deter Antetokounmpo from working on his game all summer; in fact it inspired him to hone his skill set. First, with the Bucks’ Summer League squad, and then the Greek national team at the World Cup in Spain.

Antetokounmpo told JSonline that his summer experience proved invaluable to his development.

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“It’s a different style of basketball,” Antetokounmpo said of the FIBA game. “I learned a lot and it made me more ready.

“It also was the first time I played summer league and competed with other guys my age.”

Antetokounmpo’s work ethic has not gone unnoticed by first-year Bucks’ coach Jason Kidd who said that’s the most impressive attribute of the second-year player.

“When you talk about a 19-year old being asked to do a lot of different things, we’ve asked him to play point guard, we’ve asked him to play the four [and] he’s responded with a really positive attitude,” gushed Kidd. “He’s worked extremely hard on his craft – to be 19 and still be growing, he’s a special kid.”

Kidd, still not that far removed from his playing days, has his methods for teaching Antetokounmpo and the rest of the young Bucks: repetition.

“You have to show them, walk them through it,” Kidd said. “Then show them again, show it on video, walk them through it.”

That’s the repetition Antetokounmpo was putting to use during his pre-game warm-up.

Two bounces, shoot, swish. Repeat.

Under Kidd’s tutelage, plus his summer experience, Antetokounmpo’s confidence is growing by the game, helped immeasurably by the young talent he happens to be paired up with this season: namely Jabari Parker. The Duke forward has entered the League with high expectations, but instead centered on the versatility of his athletic teammate as a key to creating match-up problems with opponents.

‘He can complement everybody on the floor,” said Parker. “If they put a small on him [he can] move him down, if they put a big on him let him keep it.”

It’s important to provide Giannis with room to grow and develop, but at the same time he will be looked upon to help carry the load for the team this season; whether it’s creating his own shot, or setting up his teammates. Kidd believes there is no ceiling on how good Giannis can be. It’s all on the player.

“As good as he wants to [be]. It’s on him,” Kidd said of Antetokounmpo’s potential. “For a player, you have to put in the time and he’s doing that. His attitude is in the right place. Again, he shows us things that other players in this league can’t do. But he has to find a way to be consistent and he wants to be that.”

Two bounces, shoot, swish. Repeat.

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