Initial scouting reports for the 18 year old Giannis Antetokounmpo included:
- Bleacher Report: “One of the highest ceilings in this class…really on a five-year plan in terms of when he’s likely to contribute”
- DraftExpress: “There are some question marks about his true position and ideal role…defensively is where he might have the best potential”
- NBA.com: Potential is “off the charts”. “He’ll need several years of top Euro-level competition to get him ready for the rigors of the NBA”
It was a consensus that Antetokounmpo had an incredibly high ceiling based on his physical tools, but he was known as a big risk. No one knew when he would be ready for the NBA. Despite the risk, the Milwaukee Bucks pulled the trigger at pick 15:
Although some thought he wouldn’t play right away, Giannis played 24 minutes per game and averaged almost 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. He was still this unknown, skinny, athletic kid who was flying around the basketball court.
Since that rookie year, the newly named “Greek Freak” has increased his production in every season. His average points per game jumped from 6.8 his rookie year to 12.7 his sophomore season to to 16.9 his third year.
His fourth season in the league was by far his best season. The Freak averaged 22.9 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, and 5.4 assists per game. He finished this breakout 2016-2017 season by winning the Most Improved Player award and he became just the fifth player in NBA history to lead his team in all five major statistical categories. He started for the EAST in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
Playing for a small market in Milwaukee, the rest of the NBA did not have a great opportunity to see Giannis play a whole lot until last season. Because of his incredible rise to stardom, there was a lot of hype surrounding Giannis for this season. The hype became that much more real when Kobe Bryant challenged Antetokounmpo to win MVP this year.
All Giannis has done this year is look like the league’s MVP. Through seven games, he is averaging 33.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, while shooting 63% from the field and 40% from three. He has looked unstoppable to this point, and he is on track to lead the Bucks to a top seed in the Eastern Conference. Giannis now has the best odds to win the MVP according to Vegas.
If he continues to break records and the Bucks keep winning games, the Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP campaign will be much more than just hype.