Giannis Antetokounmpo decided that it was time to get back to the basics.

It’s Oct. 26, 2022, and the Nets are in town to face the Bucks. Following a quiet first half that saw him miss seven of his 10 field goal attempts, six of which came outside the paint, Antetokounmpo made a more concerted effort to play to his strengths.

The result? A 34-point second half in which he made almost shot he took.

The difference between his shot chart in the first half…

Giannis Antetokounmpo first half vs. Nets

and his shot chart in the second half tells you everything you need to know about what he changed.

Giannis Antetokounmpo second half vs. Nets

Antetokounmpo’s performance was a reminder of two things.

One, how he operates at a different level from almost everyone else in the league, so unguardable that he can use the first half of a regular season game against a title contender — yes, the Nets have graduated to that level! — as his own personal playground.

And two, how much of a work in progress his jump shot continues to be.

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Has Giannis Antetokounmpo regressed as a shooter?

Antetokounmpo has never been known for his jump shot, but he has quietly improved from midrange since entering the NBA. The Bucks don’t win the 2021 NBA Finals if he doesn’t make enough floaters and hook shots to keep the Suns honest, and his fadeaway out of the post started to become a legitimate weapon last season.

Antetokounmpo’s volume hasn’t changed much, but his efficiency has. He’s gone from connecting on 41.5 percent of his midrange attempts last season to 35.0 percent so far this season.

It’s been even more of a struggle from floater range, from 40.8 percent down all the way to 19.4 percent.

The development of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s jump shot
Season Midrange Floater
2018-19 40-116 (34.5%) 62-161 (38.5%)
2019-20 45-116 (38.8%) 68-178 (38.2%)
2020-21 51-143 (35.7%) 73-197 (37.1%)
2021-22 85-205 (41.5%) 89-218 (40.8%)
2022-23 41-117 (35.0%) 20-103 (19.4%)

Those areas are more important for Antetokounmpo than the 3-point line. Why? Because they’re his best answer to consistently beating the wall he’s grown so accustomed to seeing.

One team in particular that has defended Antetokounmpo well this season is the Hawks. He’s still averaging 28.7 points against them through three games — another reminder that his “bad” is pretty much everyone else’s incredible — but the Hawks have limited him to an uncharacteristic 44.4 percent shooting from the field.

The Hawks have three players who match up well with Antetokounmpo physically in Clint Capela, Onyeka Okongwu and John Collins. While nobody is going to anoint them “Giannis Stoppers,” they’re smart defenders who are strong enough to make him work and long enough to bother him as much as anyone possibly can. (For what it’s worth, even Antetokounmpo has talked about how well each one of them defends him.)

With the right amount of help around them, they were able to bait Antetokounmpo into taking shots like this:

And this:

And this:

Again, Antetokounmpo has shown that he can make each of those shots, but they’re not falling at quite the same rate this season as the last few seasons.

It doesn’t help that Antetokounmpo hasn’t been as sharp from the free-throw line. He’s getting there at one of the highest rates in NBA history, but he’s connected on only 65.7 percent of his freebies, the second-lowest mark of his career.

It goes without saying, but there really isn’t an answer for Antetokounmpo when he’s hitting jumpers and knocking down free throws.

MORE: You won’t believe this defensive stop from Giannis

How concerned should the Bucks be?

Milwaukee is back to being dominant defensively. It’s the offense that’s currently lagging behind.

According to Cleaning The Glass, the Bucks are averaging 94.1 points per 100 possessions in the halfcourt. Not only does that rank them 23rd out of 30 teams, but it’s the team’s lowest mark since the 2016-17 season when Jason Kidd was still calling the shots.

Antetokounmpo’s regression as a shooter isn’t the only reason that number is as low as it is, of course. Jrue Holiday, who leads the Bucks in assists (7.1) and is second to Antetokounmpo in scoring (18.1), has been limited to 29 of 40 games. (Look no further than what he did to the Knicks if you need a reminder of his value.)

Khris Middleton, who is the second-best playmaker on the team, has only played in seven games. And he hasn’t looked like himself when he has been available.

The Bucks have also struggled as a team from 3-point range. They finished fifth in each of the last two seasons in 3-point percentage. This season, they’ve fallen to 20th. That impacts Antetokounmpo more than anyone else on the roster because he is such a dominant paint scorer.

It’ll be interesting to see how much falls into place when the Bucks are at full strength again.

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