Bucks' Mike Budenholzer on Giannis: 'I Think He's Even Going to Get Better'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2020

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 17:  Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks speaks with head coach Mike Budenholzer during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum on March 17, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said he's confident reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo can achieve an even higher level of greatness.

Budenholzer told Joe Vardon of The Athletic the superstar forward's work ethic is crucial to the Bucks' success as they sit atop the NBA standings with a 46-7 record:

"To have your best player genuinely embrace getting better, I think it's huge for kind of who we want to be.

[...]

"There's a few things that are super important to us and he really checks all those boxes. I just think the teammate he is. I think his teammates love playing with him. There's incredible drive, but I think there's humility. He can laugh at himself. He's just a great, great teammate, player. We're excited. I think he's even going to get better as we go forward."

It's hard to imagine Antetokounmpo getting much better given his dominance over the past two years, but he still has peak years left at age 25, so it's impossible to rule out even better production.

The Greek Freak is averaging 30 points (second in NBA), 13.5 rebounds (fifth), 5.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting 54.9 percent from the field in 48 games this season. He ranks first in player efficiency rating, per Basketball Reference, and second in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus.

If there's one area he can improve, it's three-point shooting. He's attempting a career-high 4.9 threes per game during the current campaign, but he's connecting on just 31.3 percent of those shots.

In September, he discussed his quest to become a more reliable outside shooter:

While it's still a work in progress, he's up 5.7 percentage points on threes from last season.

If he can eventually approach 40 percent from beyond the arc in addition to being right there with the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James when it comes to the most productive players when attacking the rim, it's going to create a complete nightmare for opposing defenses.

That said, he's already in the conversation as the toughest player to defend in the NBA, which is a major reason why the Bucks are running away in the race of the league's best record. They hold a 5.5-game lead over James' Lakers.

Antetokounmpo and Co. are back in action Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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