Is it too early to talk about numbers? Of course it is. It is also not.
Giannis is not the MVP of the whole season (yet?). But he is the MVP through three games. This is a newsworthy development as far as websites about Bucks basketball go.
Here are a few ridiculous things.
Giannis leads the league in free throw attempts, and is making more than 10 per game. Last season he ranked eighth in attempts and ninth in makes. If he can hit the top three or four this season, that will go a long way toward pushing up toward 30 points each night. Here are the nine guys who made more from the stripe last season (a who’s who of offensive superstars): James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard). It is taxing to shoulder so much of the offense and get fouled all game long, and you can see that the list above is not a who’s who of defensive superstars. Giannis is the rare two-way star who is both smart enough and physically capable of dictating the game on both sides of the ball.
That is his PER. That would be the best PER in league history by a whole lot if he kept it up. (He will not; the point is that he is playing at all-time great level right now.) Here is the all-time full single-season leaderboard among qualified players:
1. Wilt Chamberlain – 31.8 (1962–63)
2. Wilt Chamberlain – 31.7 (1961–62)
3. Michael Jordan – 31.7 (1987–88)
4. LeBron James – 31.7 (2008–09)
5. Wilt Chamberlain – 31.6 (1963–64)
6. Michael Jordan – 31.6 (1990–91)
7. LeBron James – 31.6 (2012–13)
8. Stephen Curry – 31.5 (2015–16)
9. Michael Jordan – 31.2 (1989–90)
10. Michael Jordan – 31.1 (1990–91)
He leads the league in points per game by a fair margin. Coming into this season, Giannis had scored 38+ points twice in 253 career games.
Giannis is averaging 38.3 points while averaging 1.6 field goal makes outside the paint per game (5–16 overall in three games from outside the paint). The big difference with Giannis versus most other guys who score almost exclusively in the paint and thus typically dot the field goal percentage leaderboard (think DeAndre Jordan) is that Giannis can create his own shot. He leads the league in field goal attempts.
He is shooting almost exclusively in the paint, and he is making almost everything there, thus his 67.2 field goal percentage.
Giannis ranks fifth in the league in steals per game. That includes a somewhat important one in the final minute against C.J. McCollum on Saturday night. (Which the league reinforced as a correct non-foul call after the game by the way.)
That is his Box Plus/Minus. The top seven single seasons in history start with Russell Westbrook and then it is all Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. No one has ever made it to 16.
In each of the previous four seasons, Giannis lowered his turnover percentage while increasing his usage. So far, he is in line to maintain that trend, with a career-low 10.0 turnover percentage coupled with a 36.2 usage percentage, second highest in the league.
He is leading the league in scoring, but he is also still leading the team in assists. And the modest 5.0 per game belies the progression he has made as a creator.
Covered a couple of these above, but he tops the league in four of the main advanced stats that basketball-reference tracks: PER, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares, VORP. Taken individually, each metric has its shortcomings and flaws, along with strengths. Collectively, they can help give a quick reading on player performance. The formulas say the same thing as the eyes. We only have three games but we unanimity.