by Jaren Kawada
Nobody doubts that the 2013 draft class of the NBA was terrible. It started off with the surprising decision of Anthony Bennett going first overall and becoming the biggest bust in NBA history. Not only that, but of all the lottery picks, only Victor Oladipo and CJ McCollum look to be future stars of the league. Otto Porter is nothing but a role player, NCAA player of the year Trey Burke has washed out of the league, and Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, and Ben McLemore have highly disappointed so far. But one spot just outside of the lottery at number fifteen was the hidden gem of the draft. On draft day, the Milwaukee Bucks threw in a gamble on the 6’11’ forward from Greece, Giannis Antetokounmpo. If you read the draft review the next day, you would’ve guessed he would become just another foreign player you would never remember (anybody knew that Bojan Dubljevic was selected 59th overall by Minnesota?). But here we are, four years later and not only is the Greek Freak hands down the best player of the draft, but many say he will be the heir to LeBron James.
Since his rookie year, Giannis has not had a year when he didn’t improve on his game. He entered the league as an athletic dunk-only type of player and evolved into a fearless attacker in the paint. He began to use his long wingspan to become an elite shot blocker and his ridiculous strides to have the most effective euro-step in the league. At this point, he was still nothing more than an NBA trivia question for people to see who can properly pronounce his name. In just his third year in the league, the Bucks had traded away team leader Brandon Knight and had put the point guard position into the 2013 draft class rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams. He looked to be the future of the team, but the injury-prone guard had to get his reputation at some point. He soon was out for the year, and with the Bucks out of playoff hopes gave Antetokounmpo all the minutes he could handle. And so, the Bucks’ reputation of becoming one of the league’s best at developing young talent was born.
MCW was down, so Jerryd Bayless stepped into the starting role. But soon, the Bucks had a different point guard. Almost out of nowhere, Antetokounmpo suddenly had the ability to handle the ball like a point guard. Without a stable jump shot, he was able to get into the paint any way he wanted. He started a new trend. At nearly seven feet, Antetokounmpo was a natural mismatch. He backed down guards, blew past forwards, and out muscled the few who could match his size and agility (Kevin Durant) besides the king himself. Although he wasn’t a star for say yet, he was getting there. And sure enough, in 2016-2017, Giannis made his first All-Star game and won the Most Improved player award.
In four short years, the Greek Freak has become the Greak Freak and is looking to become the new king as early as next year. He doesn’t even have a jumper down and yet few people can guard him. You know what he wants, but can’t stop him. Not even two, three, or four defenders can defend him (ask Atlanta). He is by far the most versatile player on both ends, able to play all five positions and defend almost all five. He is one of the most explosive dunkers, penetrators, and all-around scorers. He has the post up of a center in the 70’s along with the handle of a decent guard. He has the defensive instinct of Hassan Whiteside with the agility of Avery Bradley. He’s unguardable even without a jumper, imagine what happens when he finds it. Everyone in the league knows that soon the hard-working gym rat will get a jumper down, and it only has to be half decent. And once he does, he will no doubt become one of the all-time greats. The only question is, how great will he become? LeBron better be ready to pass the torch, because if he isn’t, the Freak will take it.