Imagine a fantasy draft of all NBA players all-time, you are given a star in the league currently and tasked with building an ‘optimal’ lineup around your star. In this little series, I will be building said ‘optimal’ lineup, including a sixth man, around certain stars in the NBA. And since I am a fan of the Bucks, what better star to build an optimal lineup with than Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Now the Milwaukee Bucks have done a great job of putting pieces around Antetokounmpo to be successful. Players like Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Wesley Matthews supply much-needed floor spacing for the ‘Greek Freak’. To make the optimal lineup around Antetokounmpo, the players must be able to hit the three-ball consistently and run the floor. Since Antetokounmpo is a power forward, the positions of point guard, shooting guard, small forward, center, and 6th man will be examined to build the best all-time lineup around Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Point Guard: Mark Price w/ Cleveland Cavaliers
Because Antetokounmpo is a ball-dominant superstar and runs the offense most of the time, the point guard must be able to play off the ball but should be able to run the offense at times. I think Price fits best here for a couple of reasons. One is he can shoot, a career 40% 3 point shooter is a good statistic to have when playing with Antetokounmpo. Second is he can create offense. From his age 24 to age 30 seasons, Price did not average less than seven assists per game. So if called upon, Price can run the offense and get his teammates good looks. Three is he isn’t a lackluster defender. He may not be making any All-Defense teams, but Price averaged over a steal a game over his nine-year career. With his unique skillset, Price has a spot in this lineup.
Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson w/ Golden State Warriors
The first and only current NBA player on this list is Klay Thompson. It may be a stretch to get Antetokounmpo and Thompson in a lineup together, but there is not a better fit to play with Antetokounmpo than Thoms. Thompson has shown he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. He is one of the best 3-and-D guards of all time, so adding him into this lineup is downright scary. Thompson has played off of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant for most of his career, so playing off of Antetokounmpo would be nothing new for the three-time champ. A career 42% shooter from behind the arc, Thompson fits the idea of this lineup of shooting 3-pointers and spacing the floor around its superstar. Out of all the decisions at each positions, shooting guard was the easiest, because pairing Giannis with Klay is downright scary.
Small Forward: Peja Stojaković w/ Sacramento Kings
Peja would be the perfect shooter to space the floor around Antetokounmpo. A career 40% 3- point shooter, Stojaković would give Giannis the floor spacing that Middleton currently supplies in Milwaukee. The three-time All-Star played with Chris Webber in his time with the Kings, so he is not new to playing as the number two option in an offense. Stojaković is the ideal option at small forward due to his floor spacing and experience playing with superstar talent.
Power Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo
At power forward is the superstar the lineup is based around, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Already an MVP at 25, Giannis has improved each year. But this lineup requires a lot of 3-and-D style players as the Freak will need floor spacing as he lives in the paint. His 3-point shot is coming, but for this lineup’s sake, we want to space the floor with shooters as you’ve seen thus far with Price, Klay, and Peja.
Center: Chris Bosh w/ Miami Heat
The current center playing with Giannis is a lengthy, 3-and-D center who is a dominant rim defender. Sound like somebody? Chris Bosh may have been a better player than Brook Lopez, but their games are eerily similar and that’s why he made the optimal lineup. Not only does he do everything Lopez does, but he adds in playoff experience, something Antetokounmpo lacks. Bosh didn’t start shooting 3’s until his years in Miami, but in his final year with the Heat, Bosh shot 36.5% on four-plus 3-point attempts a game. Defensively he adds in about a block a game as well around eight rebounds a game. Bosh played off of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami, so playing with superstars would be nothing new for Bosh. His offensive skill set combined with his length on defense make him the perfect Center to put alongside of Antetokounmpo.
6th Man: Jason Terry w/ Dallas Mavericks
An owner of one-sixth man of the year award, Terry would be a spark plug off of the bench. A career 13.4 point a game scorer, the Jet’s best years were in Dallas. Of his eight years in Dallas, Terry scored at least 15 points per game in seven of them. His best weapon was the 3-point shot. Over his career, Terry shot 38% on four-plus attempts a game. He can create his own shot, wasn’t a liability defensively, and adds invaluable playoff experience. The Jet is a good fit coming off the bench to play with Antetokounmpo.
The ‘Optimal’ Lineup
- Point Guard: Mark Price
- Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson
- Small Forward: Peja Stojaković
- Power Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Center: Chris Bosh
- 6th Man: Jason Terry
The primary ball handlers would be Mark Price and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Klay Thompson and Peja Stojaković are the primary off-ball scorers with Bosh being a pick-and-pop option. Terry would be a spark plug coming off the bench.
Who should I build a lineup around next? It can be anyone who has played in the NBA throughout history! Let me know on Twitter as well!
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