The Milwaukee Bucks may have bowed out in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, but Giannis Antetokounmpo has proven that the future is bright.
The Milwaukee Bucks have officially been eliminated from the 2017 NBA Playoffs. After a season of growth, devastation, and perseverance, the Bucks ultimately fell to the Toronto Raptors by a count of 4-2 in a tough first round series.
Although some may be disappointed by Milwaukee’s inability to close out the series, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a shining example of why the Bucks’ future is already arriving.
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Prior to the 2016-17 NBA regular season, I wrote that Antetokounmpo has the tools to become the best player in the world. Antetokounmpo may not have earned that moniker in 2016-17, but he took significant strides towards achieving top-tier status.
At 22 years of age, Antetokounmpo already has a stake to the claim of being most versatile player in NBA history.
Antetokounmpo finished the 2016-17 regular season with averages of 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks, and 1.6 steals in 35.6 minutes per game. He did so on a slash line of .521/.272/.770, setting career highs in field goal and free throw percentage.
More importantly, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to the playoffs by leading his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals per game.
Antetokounmpo was the only player in the NBA who led his team in all five of the major statistical categories. That alone is a fair indication of how valuable he was to a team that improved its record by nine wins over the previous season.
Additional evidence can be found in the Bucks having a net rating of -2.1 when Antetokounmpo was off the floor—the second-lowest mark of any player on the team.
Furthermore, Antetokounmpo ranked No. 20 in the NBA in Real Plus-Minus and No. 14 in RPM Wins. That all amounted to tThe Greek Freak making a massive leap from a player on the rise to a first-time All-Star and Top 20 player overall.
For those who need further convincing: Antetokounmpo became the first player in league history to rank in the Top 20 in the NBA in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals.
Once again: Antetokounmpo has a stake to the claim of being the most versatile player in NBA history.
Doubling down on what I wrote before the 2016-17 NBA regular season began, Antetokounmpo has the potential to be the best player in the world. He’s physically unparalleled, and that statement includes the likes of LeBron James and Magic Johnson.
Only time will tell if his skill set catches up to his legendary physical profile, but his work ethic and rapid development speak in his favor.
The only true obstacles for Antetokounmpo will be remaining healthy and motivated. He has an excellent mentor in head coach Jason Kidd, who traveled a similar path to success as an oversized player at his position with an uncanny ability to do it all on both ends of the floor.
What Kidd will attempt to transfer to Antetokounmpo is the invaluable and often unteachable knowledge of how make those around him better.