Generally when the NBA Draft rolls around each spring, the focus is one on the first few picks of the process, and not the 15th. But when the 2013 NBA Draft rolled around, there wasn’t a clear cut favorite to be the first overall pick which resulted in the Cleveland Cavaliers surprising many people and giving power forward Anthony Bennett the honor of hearing his name called first. The 2013 NBA Draft was one of the worst in recent history as there were many more teams who missed on their selections than found the right guy. But one team that didn’t fall into that category were the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks came into the draft proceedings owners of the 15th overall selection, and after they sat back for nearly an hour watching most of their constituents fail to select the right player, they would find their guy in power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo came into the NBA as an unheralded player, but the one thing that everyone knew about him was that he was big. At 6’11”, Antetokounmpo had a size and length, but it would not take him that long too show everyone that he had game.
After Antetokounmpo only averaged 6.8 points as a rookie, he would nearly double that output in his second season as he would average 12.7 points per contest, while helping the Bucks go from winning 15 games in the previous year, to 41 victories and a trip to the playoffs. Antentokounmpo would continue to grow as a player as he began to show an inside/out game in regards to scoring, while also showing off his ball handling skills which drew comparisons to Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson.
By Antetokounmpo’s fourth season in the NBA, he was ready to show that he was the real deal as he averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. And for anyone who had troubles pronouncing the last name of this phenomenon from Greece, just referring to him as “The Greek Freak” would suffice.
Antetokounmpo has continued to improve as an overall player as he is now in the running to be the NBA’s MVP. This season Antetokounmpo is averaging 26.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 6.1 assists as he has the Bucks looking like a force in the Eastern Conference.
This season alone Antetokounmpo has a trio of triple-doubles to his credit as well as 23 double-doubles which includes a 44-point, 14-rebound performance on December 14th versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Antetokounmpo has also come up big versus the better teams in the NBA as this season Milwaukee has wins over the Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors.
Antetokounmpo is benefiting from playing under first year Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer who prior to coming to Milwaukee led the Atlanta Hawks to four playoff appearances with the team. Budenholzer is helping Antetokounmpo to take his game to the next level, while he is also ready to fill the void as the best player in the Eastern Conference now that LeBron James is with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Antetokounmpo may play in one of the smaller market in the NBA, but he is a now a household name as he has become one of the more recognizable faces in the league. And as Antetokounmpo is putting together an MVP caliber season, along with the fact that the Bucks have the best record in the Eastern Conference, the sky is the limit for him. Since joining the NBA, Antentokounmpo has put on a wealth of muscle mass as the added strength makes him impossible to stop when he makes up his mind to drive to the basket. And as Antetokounmpo is unstoppable, so are the Bucks.
Barring something unforeseen the Bucks are going to finish this season as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. And after a heartbreaking loss to the Celtics in a grueling seven-game series in the first round of the playoffs last spring, Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee appear to be a team that wants to use that as a stepping stone in order to do bigger and better things. You have to go back to 2001 to find the last time that the Bucks were able to get out of the first round of the playoffs, while their only NBA Title came in 1971. But the prowess of Antetokounmpo on the hardwood has the people of Milwaukee thinking that the time is now for their Bucks.