Giannis Antetokounmpo should try playing center when Jabari Parker returns

Giannis Antetokounmpo should try playing center when Jabari Parker returns


Giannis Antetokounmpo should try playing center when Jabari Parker returns

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While reports indicate the Milwaukee Bucks covet a center in the trade market, they should consider trying out Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The 23-year-old superstar is 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot wingspan. No one has scored more points in the paint per game (17.3) than the Greek-born athlete. Most of his scoring (60.2 percent) has come in the paint so far and he isn’t an effective shooter from midrange or long distance.

Jabari Parker will eventually return to action for the Bucks and it makes sense to keep him in the starting lineup because he is an efficient shooter. Considering the fact Antetokounmpo shoots just 35.1 percent from mid-range and 27.4 percent from long distance, it makes the most sense to use above average shooters like Parker alongside him.

Former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy recently spoke with basketball analyst Zach Lowe about the idea (via ESPN):

“You have to try to keep your best players on the floor and see if you can make it work. I don’t see a huge problem against a lot of teams. I don’t know why it would be. The more you can surround your star talent with shooting and playmaking, the better chance you have. When you have Henson on the floor, there’s another guy clogging the lane. The more space you can create, the better.”

When the Bucks have played Eric BledsoeTony Snell and Khris Middleton on the court at the same time as Antetokounmpo, they’ve outscored their opponents by 11.1 points per 100 possessions.

Antetokounmpo (61.9 percent) has a higher rebound percentage than everyone in the league who has had as many opportunities except Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan. Middleton (52.7 percent) pulls in boards with more efficiency than big men like Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas.

Snell and Bledsoe both have 7-foot wingspans that can help them off the glass.

Parker fits in exactly with the kind of offense the Bucks are currently running under head coach Jason Kidd. Only two teams (the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors) run transition plays more often than Milwaukee.

Last season, Parker ranked Top 5 (1.32 points per possession) on this play type with the third-highest score frequency (65.2 percent) and second-best effective field goal percentage (71.5 percent) in the league.

Meanwhile, Parker can provide help in the paint considering he ranked Top 10 on post-up efficiency among those with as many opportunities both last year (1.04 PPP) and the season prior (1.00 PPP) as well.

He ranked Top 20 (1.22 PPP) on putbacks last season and Top 15 (1.20 PPP) during his 2015-16 campaign when compared to those with at least as many chances.

During the 2016-17 season, Parker shot remarkably (63.9 percent) well from within five feet of the basket. He and Antetokounmpo (67.8 percent) ranked in the Top 15 among those who had as many field goal attempts, proving this duo would control the paint on the offensive side of the glass.

The only forwards last season who had a better field goal percentage than Parker (65.6 percent) in the non-restricted area of the paint were Anthony DavisLeBron James and Antetokounmpo.

Defensively, meanwhile, opposition shot 4.3 percent worse against Parker on attempts within six feet of the basket last season. This season, shooters have a field goal percentage 2.6 percent worse than Antetokounmpo in that same range. Antetokounmpo also ranked Top 5 overall in total blocks recorded last year.

Maybe the idea of moving him and Parker to the frontcourt together isn’t as insane as it might seem at first glance. It might not be traditional but zagging when everyone else zigs can help a team rise to the top.

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