NBA

More mature Giannis enjoying playmaking for the Bucks

By Sports Desk February 04, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo thinks increased maturity is enabling him to enjoy more of a playmaking role for the Milwaukee Bucks this season.

Reigning NBA MVP Antetokounmpo displayed a fine array of passing as he racked up 10 assists alongside 21 points and 14 rebounds through three quarters in a 130-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

He moved past Quinn Buckner for fourth on the Bucks' all-time assist list when he reached 2,392 by finding Brook Lopez out of a double-team in the low post.

It was Antetokounmpo's third triple-double of the season and he used his spare time in the fourth quarter to take some courtside photographs of his brother Thanasis.

Antetokounmpo had not felt the need to shoulder the burden for scoring on his own as the Bucks made 21 three-pointers. It was the fifth time this season they have made at least 20 shots from beyond the arc – they only had four such games in franchise history prior to 2020-21.

"It's a new thing. Probably last year and the year before and the year before that, I'll go into a game and I'm just too stubborn to not be at my best every single night and I try to go through guys," said Antetokounmpo.

"Three guys are guarding me and I still try to get in the paint. I think that this is just a step forward to this leadership.

"Last year, I felt like, and the previous year, that in order for us to win, I have to be at my best. I have to get 30, 35 ... 25, 20 and 10 or whatever the case might be. Be everywhere, do everything.

"But now, I think our team is a great team; and this year, if my team needs me to pass the ball, I've got to pass the ball."

He added: "Next year might be different. The team might need me to go crazy every single night, but I think that's being mature. Obviously, I'm still young. I'm 26, but 26 is older than 25 and 24, and I kind of like it. I kind of like being this way.

"I kind of like being in a good place, making the right play and just seeing my team-mates having fun. But at the end of the day, always, we've got to win the game. I'm here to win games; I'm not just here to mess around and all that."

Coach Mike Budenholzer lauded the development in Antetokounmpo's ability to read the game and provide exactly what is needed at the right moment.

"I just think he's playing really, really unselfishly," said Budenholzer.

"He's seeing things and making the right read, the right passes, and I just think he's in a great place, mindset-wise. He's aggressive and attacking when it's needed, and he's finding his team-mates and finding opportunities for everybody else when it's needed. He's playing really at a high level."

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