Evan Turner stood casually at the free throw line as the ball swung to an unguarded Giannis Antetokounmpo at the top of the arc. Even in a two-point game late in the fourth quarter, even on a night when Giannis already had 36 points, Turner and the Blazers opted against putting a defender within five feet. They deemed him a non-threat to hit a three.
Giannis went straight into the lane and hit a leaner, and-one, and made the free throw. Some minutes later, the Bucks won by three.
While they don’t register as three-pointers in the usual three-pointer columns, Giannis is on pace (with 11 in his first nine games this season) to rack up the most converted and-one three-point plays since NBAMiner.com began tracking the stat in 1996–97.
Most Converted And-One Three-Point Plays Since 1996–97
Name — Year — Converted Three-Point Plays
Amare Stoudemire — 2007/08 — 87
LeBron James — 2005/06 — 79
Amare Stoudemire — 2006/07 — 72
LeBron James — 2008/09 — 70
Amare Stoudemire — 2004/05 — 67
Shaquille O’Neal — 2002/03 — 66
LeBron James — 2009/10 — 65
Karl Malone —1996/97 — 64
Amare Stoudemire — 2009/10 — 64
Dwyane Wade — 2008/09 — 64
The chart above is counting converted and-ones. Back in 2000–01, Shaq drew 115 and-ones fouls where he made the initial field goal, but he only hit 61 of those and-one free throws. Giannis is up to a career-high 79.4 percent at the stripe this season (while ranking eighth in the league in free throw attempts), and has hit 11–14 of his and-one chances. For someone so reliant on scoring in the paint, his proficient free throw shooting is crucial.
You can’t plan or draw up an and-one, so it isn’t a weapon like a straight-up three, of course. Eleven and-ones in nine games is far-off from the league-leading 39 three-pointers by James Harden. The story title is being “funny”. But when you reach a volume like the guys above, it is more than a little extra something.
The point here is not that Giannis is a great offensive player all of a sudden because he is now racking up and-ones at a historic rate. It’s more the other way around: Giannis is racking up and-ones at a historic rate because he is now all of a sudden a (stronger) (more in-control) (assertive and forceful) (smarter) great offensive player. Two or three points at a time, he has more than anyone.