There are a few games in every NBA season, no matter the team, that are so pathetic it’s pointless to review video. One example, it would seem, is the abomination the Warriors put forth Thursday night in Milwaukee.
Trash the video. Give it the contempt reserved for any game in which you fall behind by 39 in the first half and never come close to catching up.
Beneath the surface, however, the Warriors can find tremendous value within the scenes of the 118-99 spanking administered by the Bucks at Fiserv Forum.
The power and majesty of Giannis Antetokounmpo was on full and glorious display, and young Warriors Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman witnessed every helpless minute.
So, keep the video. Let the youngsters watch and re-watch, ad infinitum. There is an abundance of lessons for both Kuminga, 19, and Wiseman, 20, if they are willing to take notes and eager to apply them.
“If you look at where Giannis is now and then you think about him as a rookie, you’ve got to think about JK,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Total inexperience. Not much knowledge of the NBA. Not much understanding of what’s going on yet.
“But that’s exactly where Giannis was ... when he first came into the league.”
To be clear, I’m not implying that Kuminga or Wiseman will, or even can, climb to the heights the Greek Freak has achieved. Wouldn’t dare. He’s a superstar, a two-time NBA MVP, an NBA Finals MVP and the leader of the reigning NBA champions.
Giannis also came into the NBA in 2013 as a scrawny (6-foot-9, 196 pounds) 19-year-old with absurd athleticism but very limited basketball skills. He averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds as a rookie, shooting 41.4 percent from the field. He was raw, a project, and it was doubtful anyone could have imagined he would add two inches and 45 pounds and become the league’s most devastating performer.
Stephen Curry entered the NBA four years earlier and saw Giannis elevate. Though he wasn’t nearly as raw as Antetokounmpo or Kuminga or Wiseman, Curry shares with Giannis not only an agent but also that astonishing growth from probable starter to Hall of Famer.
In that regard, Curry has a clue of some things his teammates can learn not only from an up-close view of Giannis wrecking their team but also studying his road to the top.
“Do your homework on what the first two or three years looked like for him, when he was trying to figure out his way,” Curry said. “The hardest thing for anybody to hear as a young guy, with an opportunity in front of you, is patience. Patience is tough. You don’t really know when things are really going to click, when you’re going to take that next leap.
“But you have to fall in love with the process and the work that goes into it every day. You can’t cheat that part of the process. You can’t rush it.”
Giannis would not be where he is without a maniacal hunger for greatness and a relentless pursuit his best self. When he leads his team to victory, with 30 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and three blocks – in 30 minutes – he’s showcasing the fruits of his labor.
“I don’t know that there’s a more athletic, more physically imposing player in the league than Giannis,” Kerr said. “And he’s learned how to use that athleticism and that size to really take over games.
“There’s plenty for our young guys to pick up, watching him play.”
Kuminga, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes Thursday, is a 6-foot-7 forward, Wiseman a 7-foot-1 center. Both possess crackling athleticism and rangy wingspans. They might not have Giannis’ ceiling, but each has a blueprint and knows how impressive it can be.
It’s too soon to get an accurate measurement of how deeply committed Kuminga and Wiseman are to chasing the apex of their abilities. Is it enough to be celebrities, with the privileged lifestyle, or is the goal to win championships?
That’s a decision each must make, and the coming years will expose which path they chose.