Giannis Antetokounmpo’s most recent game: 16 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds, 1/3 from three in an embarrassing loss to the Celtics.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo’s most recent game: 23 points, 5 assists, 10 rebounds, 4/5 from three in an inspiring win* against the Knicks.
And, for fun, Kostas Antetokounmpo’s most recent game: 0 points, 0 assists, 1 rebound, 0/0 from three in a dominating win versus the Cavaliers.
You can mess with the numbers all you want with whatever crazy maths you can come up with, but even the world’s shadiest accountant wouldn’t be able to fudge the numbers enough to have them tell anything other than the plain truth: that Thanasis Antetokounmpo is the best Antetokounmpo, always has been, and always will be. Forever. You can point to irrelevant evidence like “MVP Awards” and “sustained production over an extended period”, but I’ll point you in the direction of the door. Because you can just get out of here with that garbage. No one wants to hear it.
Remember when Jason Kidd was hailed as a genius for running the “Point Giannis” experiment? It turns out he wasn’t much of a genius after all, in fact he was more of a hobo grifter moonlighting as an NBA coach, and now that experiment has now been run again with far greater success. Mike Budenholzer’s “Point Thanasis” experiment is not just a poor replica of the prior experiment, but a whole new experience that combined Bud’s coaching brilliancy with Thanasis’ natural abilities and incredible work ethic.
The Knicks just didn’t know what to do with him, because he was doing it all. He was a threat in every phase of the game. Defense, obviously you know you’re getting full defensive intensity with him every second he’s on the court. He was just popping threes like it was no big deal. The scouting report didn’t say that threes we’re going to happen, but they did, and if you looked closely on the bench you could see some poor assistant coach frantically scribbling new words on copies of the scouting report and handing them to the players. Those new words read “THANASIS IS THE NEXT DUNCAN ROBINSON”.
What are you supposed to do against a guy who can grab the rebound, bring the ball up the court, and then either shoot a three or get right into an action that will result in any easy bucket for one of his teammates because of his elite playmaking ability? Just stand there and take it, I guess. Never mind what he can do if he just decides to take the ball into the paint himself and dunk it all over everyone with his athleticism.
This might be Thanasis’ new career-high, but this is only the beginning. Once the rest of the guys come back, once Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are back on the court and ready to play a fully complementary role, who knows what we’re going to as the season finishes up. And then the playoffs. Hoo boy. I don’t think the Nets “superteam” is going to be ready for this.
*Maybe the Bucks didn’t actually “win” this game because their final point total was lower than the Knicks’ final point total, but come on man, look at the rosters of the two teams. The Bucks scoring more than 50 points in the game with that collection of players is miraculous by itself, but actually keeping the game close until the end (if that last Thansis three had gone down I think I would’ve been able to hear New York’s collective moan from here)? I’ve written a letter to Adam Silver formally requesting that the Bucks be granted a W for what they pulled off.