Giannis Antetokounmpo is about to become the all-time assists leader in Bucks history; where does he rank in other categories?
Giannis Antetokounmpo has secured his place as one of the greatest players in NBA history and has established himself as the greatest ever in Milwaukee Bucks lore.
With 44 points on March 31, 2022, against Brooklyn, Giannis surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points in Bucks history. Abdul-Jabbar played only six seasons in Milwaukee but left an indelible mark, with three MVP awards and a championship.
Of course, Abdul-Jabbar asked for a trade out of Milwaukee to pursue what he felt was best for him personally (a wound that lingers in Milwaukee sports fandom). Giannis chose to stay, signing the supermax extension and promptly winning the franchise's first title since Abdul-Jabbar's reign. Antetokounmpo now has two MVPs and seems destined to perpetually contend for more.
Here's where Giannis stands on the Bucks' all-time leaderboard (through Feb. 16, 2023):
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 15,817
Antetokounmpo set the mark in spectacular fashion, delivering back-to-back 40-point performances in clutch road wins. His 44-point performance against Brooklyn sealed it March 31, with a 3-pointer that tied the game in the final seconds (allowing the Bucks to win in overtime). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn't have the 3-pointer at his disposal, but it's not as if Giannis typically scores beyond the arc. In 2023, Giannis has taken his scoring to a new level north of 30 points per game for the first time (31.8 ppg), coupled with 12.2 rebounds per game and 5.4 assists.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 14,211 points
The greatest scorer in Bucks history for nearly 50 years also happened to become the top scorer in NBA history (38,387 points), a mark that stood for nearly 40 years. Antetokounmpo already has more years in the NBA than the six seasons Abdul-Jabbar spent in Milwaukee, but Abdul-Jabbar arrived as a fully realized talent at 22 years old, ready to take over the league immediately. He never averaged fewer than 27 points with the Bucks and cleared 30 points per game in four seasons. For now, he also has one other edge on Antetokounmpo — three MVP awards during his Bucks tenure from 1969-1975. He won those awards in 1971, 1972 and 1974, though Antetokounmpo now has the thing that he truly wants (and Abdul-Jabbar already had) ... a championship.
3. Glenn Robinson, 12,010
4. Sidney Moncrief, 11,594
5. Michael Redd, 11,554
6. Bob Dandridge, 11,478
7. Khris Middleton, 11,202
Middleton is rubbing shoulders with the franchise's all-time greats, crossing into the 10,000-point club during the 2021-22 season. Against Philadelphia on March 29, he passed Hall of Fame finalist Marques Johnson and moved into seventh all time on the Bucks scoring ledger. His 2022-23 season has been slowed dramatically by injury, but he's finding his stride and can now zoom in on a top-four finish before the end of the year. He may go down as the Pippen to Giannis' Jordan, an all-time great who's scored in excess of 20 points per game the past three seasons.
8. Marques Johnson, 10,980
9. Junior Bridgeman, 9,892
10. Brian Winters, 9,743
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 7,161
There's nobody who can compete with Abdul-Jabbar in the rebound department. He never averaged fewer than 14 per game in Milwaukee, though Antetokounmpo has averaged double-figures in this department every year starting in 2017-18.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 6,721
Antetokounmpo has been in second for a while now, though he obviously still has some work to do. Now needing fewer than 500 rebounds to catch Kareem, Giannis is on track to surpass this mark in the 2023-24 season.
3. Bob Dandridge, 4,497
4. Marques Johnson, 3,923
5. Andrew Bogut, 3,810
6. Terry Cummings, 3,758
7. Glenn Robinson, 3,519
8. Sidney Moncrief, 3,447
9. Ersan Ilyasova, 3,343
10. Khris Middleton, 3,181
He snuck past Jack Sikma by the end of the 2021-22 season to land a spot on the top 10.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 3,274
Antetokounmpo set the new franchise mark Feb. 16, 2023, when he handed out three dimes against the Bulls in the last game before the all-star break; it would come attached with the dubious distinction of the same game where Giannis left in the second quarter following a sprained-wrist injury. He joins Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves as the only players who lead a franchise in points, assists and blocks.
2. Paul Pressey, 3,272
When you ponder the "original point forward," you may picture Marques Johnson or Paul Pressey. But either way, the Bucks had a hand in cultivating that concept, and the lineage continued with what Antetokounmpo has demonstrated at times during his career. Pressey played in Milwaukee from 1982-90, averaging 5.6 assists per game and had five straight seasons when he averaged 6.6 or more. The 1982 draft turned out to be a big one for Bucks royalty, with Pressey taken 20th and future Bucks Terry Cummings and Ricky Pierce taken No. 2 and No. 18, respectively.
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3. Sidney Moncrief, 2,689
4. Khris Middleton, 2,500
Middleton passed Quinn Buckner on March 19, 2022, and finished the year in the top five; he's moved past Brian Winters for fourth now that he's returned from injury. He'd be on track to make his way into the top three with another full season in 2023-24.
5. Brian Winters, 2,479
6. Quinn Buckner, 2,391
7. Sam Cassell, 2,269
8. Oscar Robertson, 2,156
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 2,008
10. Bob Dandridge, 1,956
1. Quinn Buckner, 1,042
First a disclaimer: steals didn't start getting counted until 1973-74, so this list is potentially a little slanted. If you took Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's steal totals from his final two years in Milwaukee and extrapolate them over six, he wouldn't be in the top 10, but Bob Dandridge would have 699 under the same formula and be safely in the top 10. Buckner, the man who is officially at the top, played six seasons in Milwaukee from 1976-82 (before Paul Pressey enters the equation). The No. 7 pick in the 1976 draft was named to the All-Defensive Team four times, authoring 2.3 swipes per year during his Bucks career. Perhaps a shade underrated in Bucks history, the point guard also had 5.2 assists per year, but the Bucks traded him for Boston's Dave Cowens in 1982. Buckner's days of starting dried up, though he did win the 1984 NBA title after his Celtics were swept by the Bucks in the 1983 playoffs.
2. Paul Pressey, 894
3. Sidney Moncrief, 874
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 800
5. Khris Middleton, 790
This presumably was going to be the area that will be hardest for Antetokounmpo to conquer in Bucks history for a couple of reasons. One is that he still has a long way to go, 242 shy of Buckner's mark (a typical year for Giannis has been between 70-90 steals). He's really probably still three years away. The other issue is Middleton, who's collecting thefts at a pace just shy of Antetokounmpo, had been ahead by a narrow margin before Middleton missed a good chunk of the 2022-23 season, giving Giannis a chance to leapfrog his good friend.
6. Alvin Robertson, 753
7. Brian Winters, 718
8. Marques Johnson, 697
9. Glenn Robinson, 689
10. Ray Allen, 618
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 893
With his two blocks against Houston on Dec. 10, 2021, he passed Alton Lister for the top spot, though it bears mentioning that this stat didn't begin tabulation until 1973-74. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still seventh on the list even though he had only two Bucks seasons counted. If we transferred the number of blocks Abdul-Jabbar racked up in his first six seasons when the stat was actually counted (1973-79) to his career with the Bucks, his total of 1,595 would be the runaway leader in franchise lore.
2. Alton Lister, 804
3. Harvey Catchings, 709
4. Andrew Bogut, 642
5. John Henson, 600
6. Brook Lopez, 599
Lopez has traditionally been a triple-digit blocker in most seasons, so it stood to reason he'd rocket up these charts, already up from No. 9 at the end of last season. He's on his way to top-five status in this department even though it's only his fifth year with the Bucks and he missed most of last season with a back injury.
7. Ervin Johnson, 586
8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 495
9. Randy Breuer, 474
10. Marques Johnson, 439
Other milestones featuring Antetokounmpo
Triple-doubles: 32 (first in franchise history). Abdul-Jabbar is second at eight, but remember blocks and steals weren't counted in four of his six seasons in Milwaukee, so Antetokounmpo might have had some actual competition under different circumstances. Still, he's on another level in this realm.
Defensive rebounds: 5,493 (first in franchise history). It's not close, though Khris Middleton (2,774) has now moved into second place, with Andrew Bogut third at 2,662. Rebounds weren't recorded as differentiated between offensive and defensive until 1973-74, so Kareem would obviously otherwise be a factor here.
Free throws made: 3,892 (first in franchise history). Sidney Moncrief's 3,505 were the gold standard until this year when Giannis took over this category. It probably comes as no surprise that Antetokounmpo is now first in free throw attempts, with 5,483 to blow past Moncrief's 4,214 for the top spot.
Games: 703 (second). He's on his way to catching franchise record-holder Junior Bridgeman (711), a mark he'll hit this year, barring injury, as the latest notch in his belt as the franchise's greatest ever. Middleton has moved up to fourth on this list (641), with Sidney Moncrief (695) in third.
Others: He's taken over the top spot in minutes played (22,908), sits fourth in offensive rebounds (1,228) and in a stat that's sure to make some people smile, eighth in 3-pointers made (485). He actually went backward from seventh, with Brook Lopez (507, now sixth) passing him by. Khris Middleton is No. 1 in franchise history (1,226), well ahead of Ray Allen (1,051) for the honor. Pat Connaughton is now up to ninth (453).
JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Milwaukee Bucks lore