While it may not have been their intent when the season began, the Milwaukee Bucks are deeply entrenched in rebuild mode. The most promising aspect of that plan so far has been the play of their trio of rookies, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, known by many as The Greek Freak.
Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet sensation in his brief career with his unreal physical dimensions, delightful blogging and occasional flashes of on-court brilliance. Aside from his novel likability, the 19 year old has displayed enough talent and composure to earn comparisons to superstars such as Paul George and even Kevin Durant. If the NBA went back in time to conduct the 2013 draft over again, Antetokounmpo would likely be the first overall pick.
His numbers – 10.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes on 43 percent shooting – aren’t mind-boggling, but watching him cover half of the court in three strides to soar for a majestic finish or vicious rejection makes it nearly impossible to envision this young man as anything other than a future All-Star in this league.
The Bucks’ top priorities for the remainder of this cellar-dwelling season need to be developing Antetokounmpo’s game and figuring out which prospect they can select with their likely top-four draft choice whose game will mesh best with the Greek youngster.
Contract extensions for players with anything less than three years of experience are practically unheard of, but just as rare are players with such unlimited potential and unanimous support. The Bucks shouldn’t do anything crazy, but figuring out how soon they can lock up Antetokounmpo for as long as possible should be on the minds of those in the front office.
The immediate plan, however, doesn’t need to be nearly as complicated. The team must firmly establish Antetokounmpo’s spot in the starting lineup and let him log enough minutes – 25 to 30 per game – to get some on-the-job learning done and begin refining his skills in a game environment.
The Bucks hit what looks like the jackpot with the 15th pick in last summer’s draft and should be able to double their luck in this offseason’s loaded lottery. The future could turn bright very quickly for what right now looks like a team that doesn’t even belong in the NBA. Ask any fan of the team what the next step is, and their answer will be cautious but fairly simple — don’t screw it up.