Hailing from the small town of Sepolia in Athens, Greece, little was know about Giannis Antetokounmpo coming into the 2013 NBA draft.
Giannis played for Filathlitikos AO of the Greek A2 league where he averaged a decent 9.5 points per game, 5 rebounds and 1.4 assists before attempting to make the jump into the NBA.
Since Giannis played for a second division team, he truly was a huge question mark for many teams going into the draft. The only film on the Greek Freak were youtube highlights where it looked like he simply owned the competition. As a 17 year old, he was already playing with adults, and he was already much better than his competition.
Fast forward to June 27th, 2013, a day which will go down in Milwaukee Bucks history. The Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick in the draft. Many Bucks fans (myself included) were very skeptical about the pick, and thought it was another gaffe in the John Hammond era.
With the Bucks spending a lot of money in 2013 offseason, many thought the Bucks would be playoff bound. They inked OJ Mayo to a three-year contract, they gave Larry Sanders a huge 44 million-dollar extension, they acquired Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton for Brandon Jennings and the Bucks capped it of by signing veteran sharpshooter Gary Neal. The season went off the rails fast for Milwaukee, and they ended up finishing a porous 15-67.
During his rookie season under former coach Larry Drew, Giannis Antetokounmpo quickly took Milwaukee by storm. His attitude and demeanor was just different from previous Milwaukee Bucks players. His 6’9″ stature to go along with his airplane wing like wingspan of 7’4″ was something the basketball world has rarely seen before.It was clear from the beginning that he truly wanted to be one of the greats. He loved the city of Milwaukee and the Bucks franchise from the minute he stepped foot in the Cream City.
Giannis averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks in 77 appearances during his rookie tenure. The Bucks would end up finishing that season a dreadful 15-67. As dreadful as that season may have been to watch, seeing Giannis develop over the course of his rookie season was special to watch. He would wind up being selected to the All-Rookie 2nd Team.
An unknown rookie no more, Giannis grew all the way up to 6’11 his second year in the NBA. We had seen flashes his rookie season of his ability to handle the ball like a 6’2″ point guard and his defensive prowess of a true 7-footer.
With Jason Kidd now coming into the picture as coach in the Greek Freak’s second season, many wondered how he would utilize Antetokounmpo. Well, to put it into simpler terms, Jason Kidd changed his career. Deploying a new scheme, Kidd and the Bucks decided to let Giannis run the point and facilitate the offense. The move did not work at first, but there was plenty of time to revisit it, as Giannis was only 19 years old.
Giannis finished his second season in the NBA averaging 12.7 points per game, 6.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1 block. Talk about a swiss army knife. The Bucks snuck into the playoffs as a 6 seed, and matched up with the Chicago Bulls. The Bucks fought hard, and ultimately lost, but the difficult loss only drove Giannis to become better. He played in 81 games that season.
Flash forward to 2015-2016. The Greek Freak has arrived, and the NBA cannot figure out a way to stop this guy. Using his wiry limbs and ginormous hands, Giannis was doing whatever he wanted on the floor with little to no resistance from the defense. With averages of 17 points per game, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks the NBA was on notice.
The 2015-2016 season was a disaster for the Bucks, and it proved that Michael Carter-Williams was not the point guard of the future. When he got injured before the season ended, the Bucks handed the reigns back over to Giannis to run the point. Again. This time, the results were outstanding. He finished the season with 5 triple doubles, and was already the Milwaukee Bucks all time leader in triple doubles. He did that in less than half of the season.
This season, Giannis has solidified himself into the MVP discussion, Most Improved Player race and the Defensive Player Of the Year. The dedication and drive he possesses is something out of this world, and it truly is admirable. He wants to be great and will stop at absolutely nothing until his name goes down in the record books.
With career high averages across the board, Antetokounmpo could be one of only 4 other NBA players to lead their team in each of the major 5 categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks). This is elite company we are talking about, folks.
With his season averages at 23.2 points per contest, 8.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 2 blocks, he is one of only a handful of players in NBA history to improve in every category. Not to mention, his 26.72 PER ranks #7 in the NBA and he is making a strong play for being named to 1st Team All Defense.
There is already chatter amongst fellow Milwaukee Bucks fans that Giannis Antetokounmpo is already one of the best players in Bucks history. He’s only 22.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Sepolia will continue to give opposing teams nightmares for years, and years to come.