The Case For — Giannis Antetokounmpo

Disclaimer: I love Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s mesmerizing to watch, as he takes three steps and a dribble to get to the hole from the three-point line or get a chase-down block then follow up with a monster jam. Not to mention the fact that he’s grown about three inches since he was drafted 12 months ago. But we’re here to talk fantasy and that’s where I think the Greek Freak can really excel in the next few years.

Giannis AntetokounmpoLast year, in what was considered a weak crop of rookies, Antetokounmpo was considered a reach when the Bucks took him at pick 15. Prior to the draft, the highest level he’s played was the second-tier in Greece, for Filathlitikos and that had many projecting him as a long-term project. Instead of fulfilling the contract he had at Real Madrid for the 2013-14 season, Antetokounmpo came straight to the NBA amid a whole heap of underground fanfare (is that even possible?), show casing his gigantic hands and length as well as his affable personality.

Aside from all the talk about smoothies and getting a lift from a fan to the stadium, how did Antetokounmpo perform on the court? Below are his stats from his rookie season.

2013-14 MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT% TO Rank
Giannis Antetokounmpo 25 6.8 0.5 4.4 1.9 0.8 0.8 5.4 41.4 2.6 68.3 1.6 232

Hardly awe-inspiring, but definitely intriguing, especially considering he almost averaged over a block and a steal per game. The shooting numbers were poor, but that’s almost a given for rookies, but it’s his ability to accumulate stats in the other categories that is going to be Antetokounmpo’s calling card.

This season, Antetokounmpo is a guy to watch. In a expert, slow mock draft I’m currently in taking part in, Antetokounmpo went 71st overall. It’s hard to gauge what his ADP is going to settle at once public drafts get started, but I’m going to assume it’ll be around the 100 mark.

With Jason Kidd now in town as the head coach, we no longer have to deal with Larry Drew‘s maddening rotations and I think Kidd will give his sophomore sensation plenty of minutes. The only problem I see, is the Bucks’ acquisition of Kendall Marshall recently via waivers. The Bucks have a number of rotation options, but this is how I see things playing out at the moment.

PG – Kendall Marshall/Nate Wolters

SG – Brandon Knight/O.J. Mayo
SF – Giannis Antetokounmpo/Khris Middleton
PF – Jabari Parker/Ersan Ilyasova
C – Larry Sanders/John Henson

The problem I spoke about with Marshall is that Kidd may play Parker at the three and start Ilyasova or Henson at the four. He could, also, go with a starting five of Knight/Antetokounmpo/Parker/Ilyasova/Sanders.

Regardless of the starting five, Antetokounmpo should be good for around 28-32 minutes a night on the wing.

2014-15 MIN PTS 3PM REB AST STL BLK FGA FG% FTA FT% TO
Giannis Antetokounmpo 32 11.7 0.8 6.3 3.9 1.3 1.2 9.3 44.5 4.2 72.5 2.3

If he can achieve these sort of numbers, it puts him right around where he went in the experts mock. But as I said earlier, I imagine his ADP will be higher, so he could be a bargain buy in drafts. In dynasty leagues, he is almost without doubt a top 50 player, in fact I had him at 39 in my dynasty rankings.

If you are looking to get in on the ground floor of the next Antetokounmpo, because he is ‘too mainstream’, cast your eyes north towards Toronto’s Bruno Caboclo. This time next year, I could be writing a similar piece about him.

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