On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers tested their mettle against the world-champion Milwaukee Bucks. And with LeBron James still sitting out at the time due to an abdominal strain, Anthony Davis was left to lead the charge against two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Davis played relatively well in that effort, if not to his usual standard. The big man scored 18 points on 9-of-15 shooting and added nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the game. Moreover, the Lakers outscored the Bucks by five points when he was on the floor.
Clearly, though, he was no match for the Greek Freak, who dropped a 47-point bomb on the Lake Show to key a 109-102 win.
If you ask league mainstay Richard Jefferson — who was one of James’ teammates with the Cavs from 2015 to ’16 — though, the very notion that someone would compare Davis and Antetokounmpo is an affront to the Bucks star.
Jefferson: ‘It’s Disrespectful’
In the wake of the Bucks’ big win, Jefferson was chatting up the rest of the NBA on ESPN crew about Davis’ status as a possible top-five player. Davis’ inclusion on the league’s 75th anniversary team was also brought up as part of the discussion. However, all of this was just a setup for a particularly hot take.
“I’m going to say this — it is unfair to Anthony Davis to compare him to Giannis,” Jefferson declared. “And it is disrespectful to Giannis to compare him to Anthony Davis.”
To be clear, Jefferson didn’t just call Antetokounmpo the better player, which is a perfectly reasonable — and probably factual — statement to make. He was scoffing at the very notion that the two players would even be mentioned with the same breath, which, at the least, is over the top.
Jefferson went on to characterize the matchup as follows:
They are two different individuals with similar body styles, similar skill sets. If anything, I would say that Anthony Davis is more talented than Giannis. He can shoot free throws at an 80% clip, he can knock down three-pointers in the mid-30s; Giannis can do none of those things. But you know what Giannis does? Giannis has a dog in him; he has a dog in him that we have not seen from very many players…
The Numbers Game
When Jefferson explained how he arrived at his conclusion, it didn’t seem so bad. He even gave Davis the edge over Giannis in multiple departments. That said, when one tosses around words like “disrespectful,” we’ve probably gone a bridge too far, especially given the players’ similar track records.
Here is how Davis and Anteokounmpo match up from a numerical standpoint:
The catch-all metrics are particularly interesting in this case:
|Player||PER||Win Shares/48||Box +/-||VORP|
Perhaps Jefferson should reconsider what disrespectful actually means.