Extending Giannis Antetokounmpo Was a No-Brainer for Milwaukee
With the flurry of offseason cash being thrown around thanks to the rise of the salary cap, Antetokounmpo’s deal might prove to be a huge value, even compared to some of the other big contracts this summer.
He also signed for less than the max, meaning the Bucks could be set up well financially for the future. How much of a bargain did the Bucks get?
A Sticking Point
You don't earn the nickname "Greek Freak" without some incredible talent, but we saw a new level of Antetokounmpo in the latter part of last season as Bucks' coach Jason Kidd handed him the keys to the offense and turning him into a point guard.
The implications Point-Giannis had on the Bucks’ offense were huge. It didn’t translate into wins, with the Bucks going 11-17 after the All-Star break, but Antetokounmpo’s counting stats skyrocketed while his advanced metrics also graded out well.
|Points||Assists||Rebounds||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Usage Rate||Turnovers|
|Pre All-Star (52 games)||15.9||2.8||7.1||106||108||21.4||2.5|
|Post All Star (28 games)||18.8||7.2||8.6||112||105||24.2||2.8|
With the ball in his hands more, Antetokounmpo started flirting with triple-doubles on a nightly basis. Maybe the most impressive thing about his post-break numbers is that his turnovers barely increased even though his usage rate shot up.
His true shooting percentage also only went down slightly -- 56.9% to 56.1% -- while his defense got better.
One of the Best
Antetokounmpo’s deal was one of several contracts given out this summer worth $100 million or more. Despite being just 21-year-old last season, Antetokounmpo owns numbers from the last three years that stack up fairly well to the numbers of the offseason's other big-money signings.
Antetokounmpo had the fourth-best value over replacement (VORP) rating among summer signings, and he was in the middle of the pack in win shares over the last three seasons compared to the other summer signings. If it wasn’t for an inefficient rookie year, where he put up a -5.2 nERD, Antetokounmpo would fare even better. (nERD indicates how many wins above .500 a player would make an average team over a full season.)
For the sake of the comparison, LeBron James is excluded from the following list of the others who got more than $100 million this summer.
|Hassan Whiteside (2 years)||18.6||2.7||15.6|
It's important to keep in mind that none of those players are as young as Antetokounmpo. The average age of the other $100 million players this summer was 26.4 years old, and if you include James in the mix it goes up to almost 27. Antetokounmpo won’t even be 22 until December.
For a better comparison in terms of age, just look at the other top players from Antetokounmpo’s draft class in 2013.
|Nerlens Noel (2 years)||-3.6||3.0||7.0|
Other than Mason Plumlee and Rudy Gobert, Antetokounmpo has collected more win shares than anyone in his draft class, and if it wasn’t for his inefficient rookie season, he would likely top the list in almost every category.
Last year, Antetokounmpo posted career bests in effective field goal percentage (52%) and true shooting percentage (56.6%). There is also the thing about him averaging better than seven assists per game after the break.
Saving a Few Bucks
Antetokounmpo signing for less than the max is a pretty big boon for Milwaukee, and it should help the Bucks retain some of their other young talent. They already locked up Khris Middleton, so if Greg Monroe opts to become a free agent next summer, Milwaukee could have enough money avalable to do a similar-type extension with Jabari Parker, if they so choose.
With Antetokounmpo putting up ridiculous numbers, these young Bucks look like they could be a force in the wide-open Eastern Conference if they stay healthy (looking at you, Jabari). The Greek Freak’s contract might end up being one of the most team-friendly deals signed this summer as the Bucks secured an incredibly unique talent during what should be some very productive years.
For a guy who doesn't seem to be anywhere close to his ceiling yet, the sky's the limit for Antetokounmpo, and the Bucks made sure he'll be in a Milwaukee uniform as he reaches his prime.