Data Dialogue: The 'Greek Freak'

7/16/2014 - NBA
Antetokounmpo cites Kobe Bryant as inspiration to stay aggressive on both ends of the floor. Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

A simple, fundamental thing about sports statistics that gets overlooked in today's avalanche of numbers -- advanced or otherwise -- is that they actually represent things that happen as the game is played. Numbers drive our dialogue, our graphics and our arguments. They do not, however, drive the chatter in the locker room. Players care about numbers, of course, because that's what gets them paid. But nuanced discussions about how numbers come to represent specific skills, or which metrics are insightful -- it's just not a typical part of the exchange between athlete and athlete, or athlete and journalist.

What we've decided to do is to try to tie the numbers that drive our analysis with the skill sets of the players we cover by going directly to the source. The questions are driven by statistical analysis, although we're not just throwing a bunch of math at unsuspecting players. We are, however, hoping that by analyzing their own skill sets, players can reveal the mindsets that result in the numbers that tell their story.

We continue our set of dialogues today with Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

1: Most minutes by a foreign-born teenager: 1. Tony Parker, 2267; 2. Antetokounmpo, 1897; 3. Luol Deng, 1663.

Bradford Doolittle: When you came into league, the experts noted your talent and potential, but they thought because of the leap in competition from your level in Greece to the NBA, it might take a while for you to develop. You ended up playing nearly 1,900 minutes. Was the NBA more difficult that you imagined, or was it in some ways easier?