Perhaps the most beautiful result of the Milwaukee Bucks' moribund season has been the willingness of head coach Jason Kidd to install Giannis Antetokounmpo as the team's starting point guard. The decision has unlocked an extra gear in the already immense potential of Antetokounmpo, a human Monstar with Inspector Gadget arms and the vision and ball-handling skills of someone 10 inches shorter.
To the surprise of no one, Kidd is anxious to keep that experiment going.
"We're going to go forward with him (Giannis) handling the ball," Kidd said Tuesday, per Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "You can call him point guard, point forward, point center...With him having the ball and the pressure he puts on the defense and his ability to find guys, it's been a plus for us."
The idea isn't a new thing. Grainy videos of him dominating Greek league players with his open-court prowess helped spring him into the first round of the 2013 draft, and Kidd even toyed with moving Antetokounmpo to point guard last season.
But with Michael Carter-Williams on the shelf and the Bucks headed nowhere, Kidd pushed his chips to the center of the table over the last month. The results have been promising. Antetokounmpo is averaging 19.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game in March, knocking down 50.5 percent of his shots. He's picked up four triple-doubles since Feb. 22—more than LeBron James has all season.
While he still cannot find a long-range shot, keeping the ball in Antetokounmpo's hands eliminates some of the spacing problems he creates on the wing. His unique combination of size and deft ball-handling skills also make him a nightmare for opposing defenses. The Bucks are averaging 104.9 points per 100 possessions in March, by far their most efficient month of the season, per NBA.com.
"My confidence right now is really high," Antetokounmpo said, per Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. "When I look at myself when I came in as a rookie and how I feel right now, it's amazing. It's a big difference. So I can't imagine how I will feel in two years. I can't wait for the future."
Despite some still-glaring flaws, Antetokounmpo is light-years away from where anyone could have expected at age 21. He entered the NBA having played only in a Greek league that featured teams that would get run out of gym by every NBA D-League team. The Greek B Basketball League is only considered semi-professional in its own country.
For Antetokounmpo to make the leap from that low level of competition to the precipice of NBA superstardom is one of the most surprising success stories in a long time. That Kidd is willing to keep him at point guard speaks to the young head coach's willingness to think outside the box and unlock his player's maximum potential.
One just has to wonder what that means for Carter-Williams' future with the franchise.
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