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Antetokounmpo admits he’s still getting comfortable with jump shot

Carmelo Anthony Giannis Antetokounmpo

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) guards Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

AP

Giannis Antetokounmpo prefers to put the ball on the floor and drive. This season he has driven to the basket 200 times and he is shooting 51.4 percent when he does, generating points on those drives (via basket, foul or assist) 71 percent of the time.

Antetokounmpo has taken 170 jump shots this season and is shooting 28.2 percent on those.

As the Bucks struggle through a season of regression (not something uncommon for a young team like this), Antetokounmpo admitted to Ian Thomsen of NBA.com that he’s not entirely comfortable with his jumper yet.

“I don’t think I can say it is my safer option,” Antetokounmpo said of his driving. “I think it is my strength. Coach wants us to play to our strength, so that’s what I try to do. I know sometimes I might be open but I don’t feel it -- I don’t feel like I’m going to make this jump shot, so I don’t take it. Because if I don’t feel like I’m going to make it, (that’s when) I don’t make it. So I just try to play through my strengths.”

One of the reasons for the Bucks’ regression is the lack of spacing on offense — and that ties to the shooting of Antetokounmpo and point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Those two want to drive, center Greg Monroe wants to operate close to the basket, and suddenly defenses can pack it in on the Bucks and nobody is making them pay from the outside. (The bigger reason for the Bucks’ regression is on defense, their offense as a team is slightly better but their defense dropped to one of the league’s worst. But that’s another discussion.)

It’s part of the growing pains for a young team. It takes time. But if Antetokounmpo wants to be the franchise cornerstone player he can be, he needs a confident jumper that falls with regularity.