In Greek Mythology, Icarus flew with wings made of wax and feathers to escape Crete. His father Daedalus warned him to not fly too low or too high. However, Icarus ignored his warning and flew too close to the sun. His wings melted and he fell to his death. Over time, this story has given birth to the idiom, “don’t fly too close to the sun”.
The NBA’s very own Greek Freak, Giannis Antentokounmpo seems to have no regards for ancient Hellenic wisdom and stories. As the 2018-2019 NBA season has progressed, Antentokounmpo has been flying higher and higher as he has been a one man dunking crew for the Milwaukee Bucks. There is no one who plays above the rim with as much ferocity and frequency as Antentokounmpo. Among the league’s ball handlers who start, Antentokounmpo scores 1.27 points per shot (behind Steph Curry’s 1.37 and James Harden’s 1.28). When you account for his miserable 12 percent shooting from the three point range and just 70 percent from the free throw line, his prolific scoring seems almost impossible.
With 123 dunks so far, Antetokounmpo leads the league. That’s a whopping 4.6 dunks per game. Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert is second with 113 dunks at an average of 3.7 dunks per game. Clint Capella is third with 110 dunks at an average of 3.9 per game. JaVale McGee is 34 dunks behind for a distant fourth.
Antetokounmpo is on pace to shatter Dwight Howard‘s single season dunk record of 266 dunks. Barring injury, Antentokounmpo should be able to hammer down 364 dunks for the season.
However, one aspect of Antentokounmpo’s dunkfest is really unique. Unlike most big men who lead the league in dunks and usually bring down the thunder off lobs and assists to the basket, the Greek Freak is destroying the rims on his own.
Gobert might dunk almost as much as Antentokounmpo, however, 80 percent of his dunks are assisted. Capela’s dunks need even more help from teammates, with 91 percent of his dunks being assisted. Antentokounmpo on the other hand, is wreaking havoc by himself. Only 55 percent of his dunks are assisted. He is apparently equipped with the superpower of just taking off from wherever he wants to, and finish above the rim. So unique and devastating is his dominance that a lot of basketball analysts have compared his rim wrecking abilities with that of Shaquille O’Neal‘s. O’Neal was the last player to truly dominate on the offensive end despite being a dreadful shooter from 5 feet and beyond. When people start comparing a player to Shaq, you know that the player has well and truly arrived, and barring serious injuries, is here to stay.