Giannis Antetokounmpo is an extremely young player who’s ready to make the leap to becoming one of the better guards in the league.
Antetokounmpo, often called by his nickname “The Greek Freak,” has played three different positions in three years. In 2013-14 he was listed as a small forward, the following year as a shooting guard, and last year he began playing point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks after the All-Star break.
The reason Antetokounmpo bounced around positions so often is due to his uniqueness. The Greek Freak is 6’11”, 222 pounds. Despite playing three years in the league, he’s still only 21-years-old.
Let’s travel back in time to The Greek Freak’s draft night. Antetokounmpo was selected with the No. 15 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by Milwaukee. He played for the second-division Greek team Filathlitikos before being drafted, which made some scouts concerned about his competition level. He was also incredibly skinny, at only 196 pounds.
Question marks and all, Antetokounmpo’s potential was evident. He was 6’9″ at the time and could guard any position on the floor. Though not a great shooter, The Greek Freak was very fluid with the ball in his hands and excelled at getting to the rim.
His combination of size, athleticism, and ball-handling prowess was enough to convince the Bucks to select him. That pick has paid off dividends.
Going into the 2016 season, Antetokounmpo looks much different than he did three years ago. He’s added over 25 pounds to his frame and has grown two inches. The added strength, specifically, has helped nearly every aspect of his game.
Here’s the evolution of his advanced stats over his three years in the NBA: (left number is rookie year, right number is last year)
TS% .518 to .566, PER 10.8 to 18.8 (!!!!), DRB% 16.3 to 20.0
AST% 12.1 to 20.0, BLK% 2.6 to 3.4, TOV% 19.4 to 14.8
To summarize that, he’s become an all-around better shooter. Antetokounmpo has also grabbed more available rebounds, while dishing out more assists and blocking more shots. Oh, and he’s turned the ball over much less.
In 2015, Antetokounmpo averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.2 steals and 2.6 turnovers per game. Next year, he will be the Bucks’ full time point guard.
With a only a few games left last season, coach Jason Kidd announced he plans to keep Antetokounmpo at the point guard position for the foreseeable future. The decision by Kidd wasn’t too difficult, as the young Greek player thrived as the primary ball handler.
The Greek Freak had four triple-doubles as a point guard last year.
Antetokounmpo will be a serious match up problem for opposing teams next year. Who is fast enough laterally, yet tall enough to guard him?
It’s clear that Antetokounmpo has all the potential in the world, but his defense and three point shooting still need improvement. He had a 106 defensive rating and shot only 25.7% from three last year.
If The Greek Freak can get better at these aspects of his game, he could be an all-around star. He has plenty of time to improve, after all, he’s still only 21.