Giannis Antetokounmpo keeps up excellent form with near-5x5 triple-double

Giannis Antetokounmpo discards the competition. (Associated Press)
Giannis Antetokounmpo discards the competition. (Associated Press)

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a blog favorite for his varied talents and unique highlights ever since he was drafted with the No. 15 pick in the 2013 draft. However, the 21-year-old had up until this season translated his immense potential into star-level play on a fairly inconsistent basis. Predictions of Most Improved Player honors and an All-Star selection in 2015-16 proved a little early, although very strong stats after being installed as the offense’s primary creator inspired new hope for this season. As such, Antetokounmpo entered his fourth season with something to prove, lest he be known as more of a thrilling oddity than a great player.

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The early returns of the 2016-17 have been more promising, especially given Antetokounmpo’s performance in Monday night’s 93-89 home win over the Orlando Magic. The Greek Freak logged his first triple-double of the season with 21 points (6-of-13 FG, 9-of-9 FT), 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, nearly added a 5×5 with five steals and three blocks, and had the game’s best plus-minus with a plus-14 in 39 minutes. The competition was far from the league’s elite, but Antetokounmpo was easily the best player on the court looked like a no-doubt star.

It was the latest of several excellent performances for Giannis this season. In 13 games, he’s averaging 21.8 points per game on 49.3 percent shooting from the field, 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 2.0 steals per game. Monday saw his first triple-double, but he’s been within a combined four rebounds and assists of the feat in four other games already. Those numbers do not seem so impressive in a season where Russell Westbrook and James Harden are flirting with a triple-double seemingly every time out, but Antetokounmpo is contributing like fewer others in the league so far. He seems to be fulfilling his potential as a do-everything star and could be in line for his first All-Star appearance in February.

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Better yet, it’s obvious that Antetokounmpo has room to grow. His jumper remains quite poor — he’s made only 5-of-30 shots from 3-point range and can’t regularly knock down attempts outside of three feet. Those very impressive steal and block numbers can be misleading, too, because Giannis still isn’t a terrific defender from possession to possession.

It’s rare to see someone play so well while simultaneously indicating that he could be much better. Always a marvel, Antetokounmpo is now the kind of player who can decide a game. If we’re lucky, he’ll become something even rarer.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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