From unknown to All-Star: The development of Giannis Antetokounmpo

January 17, 2017

Before he was a first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo was a prop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egax6uSopnE

OK, OK, he wasn't a prop, but rather a fledgling player in a lower-level basketball league in Greece who had big plans. And whose last name was still spelled Adetokunbo.

In his pre-draft video, he says "I want to be a NBA player" and declares his strengths are that he's an "all-around player. I can jump, I can shoot, I can pass the ball, I can do everything."

This longer video displays his skills, albeit from unknown competition in a far-away country in high school-sized gyms.

Once he became a member of the Bucks, a recently drafted Antetokounmpo worked out, talked to members of the media, met some Milwaukee staff -- note the old logo -- and even ate some pizza.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmOhk8Fv5ZE

He wasn't a household name yet, though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qcg3joGpNvQ

Even NBA commissioner David Stern had problems saying his name, but announcers soon learned his name as Antetokounmpo displayed his athleticism his rookie year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFGvet8ILwU

One thing he could do is dunk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IskP72dBVho

Still, Giannis averaged just 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24.6 minutes his first season. By his second year, Antetokounmpo had learned a few more moves as well as how to best take advantage of his long arms and legs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy-nlFmW6a8

After averaging 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in his sophomore campaign, Antetokounmpo stepped up all facets of his game last season. While he scored (16.9 ppg) and rebounded (7.7 rpg) more, he also finished with 4.3 assists per game, 1.4 blocks per game and for the first time averaged over a steal per game (1.2).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4B7kgiiaOU

(And he can still dunk.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3UVjlALiWI

Antetokounmpo's complete game took off in the second half of last season, when he recorded five triple-doubles, including three in 10 days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GviMN7I91U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOtTkQENxuw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRQJSeic03s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvzqDcQQ0JQ

A key to Giannis' production was a move by head coach Jason Kidd to move the big man to point guard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5utcDCC2B_o

Quickly, Giannis gained national notice. Not just from media, but fellow players -- and superstars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PF5myX9nWE

It took a few years, but that unknown 19-year-old turned into what every franchise searches for -- an unrequited star and MVP candidate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl2oTb_TAkY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmppTiu6gwY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIXT5H0rN0Y

All the attention didn’t slow down Giannis, who has recorded two more triple-doubles this season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NHXsHwQhA4

The fans have certainly recognized the play of Antetounmpo, who is averaging 23.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.0 blocks on 53.9 percent shooting -- all career highs, as only LeBron James got more All-Star votes than Giannis in the Eastern Conference.

And why not, when he's doing things like this:

https://twitter.com/fswisconsin/status/795058892208095232

And this:

https://twitter.com/fswisconsin/status/796891544951263232

And this:

https://twitter.com/fswisconsin/status/805205426820157440

And this:

https://twitter.com/fswisconsin/status/811406846372130816

And this:

https://twitter.com/fswisconsin/status/814277565372190725

And this:

https://twitter.com/fswisconsin/status/816094270687821825

And, of course, this, which helped grow his legend even more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogece9BHaS8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npgun1GsOOA

Jason Kidd is having problems finding new ways to say how good Giannis has become. But he keeps finding the words:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xy9iYX-8xU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LJEex6hzQc

And yet people still can't pronounce his name. Someday. After all, we all need goals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBG1LZpVlYo



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