The Whiteboard: Giannis and the NBA evolution of size and skill

The thinking on this appears to have altered entirely. There was no single flashpoint for the modification but the Warriors Death Lineup with Kevin Durant and Draymond Green as the 2 bigs might be the finest example of things relocating the opposite instructions. Increasingly, groups are seeking to leverage skill advantages instead of size, extending positional groupings as far up the vertical axis as possible.

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Giannis is far from the first NBA gamer to add fluidity to the positional spectrum with an unique composite of size and ability. Huge guys shooting 3-pointers had long since ended up being the norm however were seeing increasingly more players 6-foot-10 and taller work as offending fulcrums (Nikola Jokic), produce for themselves off the dribble (Kevin Durant) and bring the ball up the court for their groups (Ben Simmons).

Now the prevailing knowledge is to get as much skill as you viably can out of the center and power forward positions. Its why groups are suddenly alright with the concept of 6-foot-7ish men like P.J. Tucker, Robert Covington, Larry Nance and Julius Randle playing many center minutes. Think about Giannis as a fixed point on the plot above. His place hasnt relocated the previous five years. The design of play the Bucks and groups around the league are utilizing has altered considerably, which suggests were drawing different circles around his place.
Giannis was a point guard. He won a title as a power forward and theres a possibility hes thought about a full-ish-time center at some near point in the future. Thats about us, not him.

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The method we speak about these players has been mostly been by expanding our definition of the traditional positions to include these outliers. However Giannis is rather unique in that, for a good part of his profession, we (media and fans) have adhered to standard labels and heuristics more with him than with a few of his peers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo utilized to be a point player
For most of his career, Giannis has been the primary developer and initiator for Milwaukees offense. And for at least a while, he was managed with traditional labels. Late in the 2015-16 season, then Bucks head coach Jason Kidd made it clear that Giannis was going to be the Bucks point guard moving forward.
Basketball-References position approximates listed Giannis as a point guard for that season but would note him as a small forward the following season. He was listed at little forward as a novice, and at shooting guard his 2nd season. Theyve listed him at power forward for the last four. The changes from year to year talk to the classification-busting uniqueness of Giannis game but the point is weve attempted to put standard labels on him. And the methods those labels have altered most likely states more about us than it does about him.
From February on in that 2015-16 season, the stretch in which Jason Kidd and the rest of the basketball world reached a contract on him being a point guard, Giannis published a help percentage of 28.1 percent. Jrue Holiday brought the ball up the court a bit more and some of Giannis touches may have come in different places on the flooring but its hard to see what modifications in his on-court efficiency correlate with moving 3 areas up the positional scale.
Why is Giannis considered a power forward or center now?
Among the huge differences that discuss the modification in positional designation is the remainder of the gamers on the court. In 2015-16, the Bucks roster included three centers (or center-ish bigs)– Greg Monroe, Miles Plumlee and John Henson. Giannis played simply 31 minutes all season (out of 2823) without a minimum of among those other bigs on the court.
This season, the Bucks roster consisted of simply one center-ish bigs– Brook Lopez, who is far more perimeter-oriented than any of the bigs he played with in 2015-16. Giannis played nearly a 3rd of his regular-season minutes and more than 40 percent of his playoff minutes with Lopez. In the NBA Finals, more than half of his minutes came without Lopez and he was the primary protector on Phoenixs center Deandre Ayton for almost a third of Aytons offending belongings.
Essentially, even though hes playing an exceptionally comparable function on offense, Giannis has actually ended up being a big male by default. For many years, the Bucks have actually progressively surrounded him with more boundary, asking him to get some traditional huge male duties and intentionally passing up others as part of their structures on offense and defense.
How does the positional development of Giannis show league-wide patterns?
Circling around back to the bigger patterns, I think Giannis is such a perfect exemplar since the perception of him has slid from one end of the positional spectrum to the other in the period of 5 years although his function in a vacuum hasnt truly altered that much. What has altered is the groups approach, how they use his abilities and the systems and personnel they put around him. All that is indicative of a change in the way I believe groups are looking to exploit advantages.

The old paradigm, the one Giannis started his career under, viewed size as the primary advantage to be exploited on the basketball court. If you had a player like Giannis, with the size of a big however the abilities of a guard, the conventional wisdom was to try and move them down the positional scale as far as their ability would permit. If you could make it deal with a 6-foot-11 point player, you were leveraging a substantial size benefit over everybody else at that position. And that thinking stretched to every position, it made it seem sensible to play and attempt Andrea Bargnani or Charlie Villanueva as a little forward, and over-emphasize the worth of pure height when it concerned centers.
I tried to record this concept in a generic scatterplot (the points here dont correlate to actual gamers, just theoretical combinations of ability and size). Usually, as size boosts, skill declines and teams would attempt and extend their positional designations as far as they could across the horizontal axis.

Late in the 2015-16 season, then Bucks head coach Jason Kidd made it clear that Giannis was going to be the Bucks point guard moving forward.
Basketball-References position approximates listed Giannis as a point guard for that season but would note him as a little forward the following season. The changes from year to year speak to the classification-busting originality of Giannis video game however the point is weve tried to put traditional labels on him. From February on in that 2015-16 season, the stretch in which Jason Kidd and the rest of the basketball world reached an agreement on him being a point guard, Giannis published a help portion of 28.1 percent. Giannis was a point guard.