Fans of the Milwaukee Bucks won’t have an All-Star to cheer on this year. In fact, in the past 12 seasons, Michael Redd‘s lone selection in 2004 is the only occasion in which the team had a player representing them in the battle of the league’s best. The festive weekend will not be completely devoid of Bucks this year though, as Giannis Antetokounmpo will continue making a name for himself — as if a bigger name is really what he needs — while participating in two events in New Orleans. The Greek youngster is the kind of player molded to flourish in this environment.
Friday night, Antetokounmpo will team up with the likes of Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and other future studs of the NBA as part of the Rising Stars Challenge, the only game where less defense is played than in the actual All-Star Game. It is exactly the type of contest where Antetokounmpo can wow the crowd with flashes of his unreal length and athleticism. Expect to see him filling the lane and finishing lobs from various heights and angles. Kenneth Faried earned MVP honors in the game last year, and Antetokoumpo’s game isn’t completely unlike the Denver Nuggets big man. His unselfishness is the only thing working against him.
The following night, the Bucks young forward will pair with DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors as part of a new twist to the Skills Challenge. Antetokounmpo will become the second Buck to take part in the competition, following Brandon Jennings in 2010, but this will be the first year in which the challenge is treated like a relay race. His loping strides should benefit the duo greatly in the timed event, but neither player is particularly deft at the passing or shooting portions of the challenge. Still, DeRozan has earned an All-Star bid with his play this season, so there is no doubt their twosome possesses the skills to provide a potential surprise.
One way or another, Antetokounmpo is sure to make a splash this weekend. It’s very likely that along the way he will introduce himself to many casual fans, and soon, when he’s back in this position for the real game, everyone will know the name.