Giannis Antetokounmpo is in the NBA’s class of “next up” superstars, but does he have a not-so-bright side we don’t know of?
Anyone with siblings knows how a young brother or sister can get under your skin. They poke and prod at you, and seemingly get away with everything because the parents don’t believe their younger child is capable of that. Over the last couple of weeks, LeBron James and John Wall have opened up about Giannis Antetokounmpo, and how the 22-year-old Greek has exasperated the two superstars.
Wall was the first one to open up about the Greek Freak after he hung a career-high 39 points on the Washington Wizards in their matchup before Christmas. This quote is per J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic, and came after the Wizards avenged their blowout loss with a 107-102 victory on Monday night:
“We felt like they whooped us badly but also you’re just up 20 or 30 points, keeping your star player in trying to get his numbers we kind of didn’t like that. We took that personal. We didn’t have (anything) written on the board. We didn’t say too much. It was a lot more chippie, a lot more trash-talking than it was in the past. As long as we got the win, we’re fine.”
Antetokounmpo was relatively quiet this time around, tallying 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Otto Porter was a driving force for Washington, and he poured in 32 points to complement Bradley Beal and Wall who went for 22 and 18, respectively.
Now, the following quote from James is puzzling. And it really makes you think. LeBron is never a controversial guy and seldom deviates from the cookie-cutter response. After the Cleveland Cavaliers were bested by the Bucks back in December, James had an interesting perspective, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
Yet privately, after the Bucks beat the pants off the Cavs 118-101 on Nov. 29, James was less than impressed with how Parker and Antetokounmpo clearly played at a higher level against the Cavs than they normally do. That made James wonder why Parker and Antetokounmpo don’t make that level of play their standard and become true professionals.
The game that was mentioned featured 34 points, 12 boards and five dimes by Giannis and 18 points from Parker, and those aren’t too far off from what they do on a regular basis. For Antetokounmpo, the scoring is a bit high, but he’s routinely hauled in double-digit boards while playing point forward for Jason Kidd. Parker, who’s had dazzling flashes at times this year, was right on par with his current average of 19.9 points per game.
Although, they do seem to rise to the occasion when playing the NBA’s best player:
- Antetokounmpo vs. CLE: 29 points, ten rebounds, four assists in three games
- Parker vs. CLE: 25 points, 4.7 rebounds, 50 percent shooting in three games
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If anything, James isn’t upset that they play well for him exclusively. He doesn’t want to see their incredible talent wasted because they are two guys who can turn into a dominant 1-2 punch later in their careers.
H/T Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk
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