If you are a fan of the Milwaukee Bucks, life is pretty good right now.
The Bucks drafted their franchise cornerstone for the future this summer in Jabari Parker, added a new head coach in Jason Kidd, and are also eagerly awaiting to see how well Giannis Antetokounmpo does becoming their primary ball handler going into this season.
Antetokounmpo, also known as “The Greek Freak,” is 19 years old, 6-foot-11, and 217 pounds. He went through a similar offseason the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George did the summer between his first and second years in the league, when George grew two inches and his game started to really take form as a result of this newfound height advantage at his position.
Antetokounmpo not only added two inches to his frame this summer, but also put on 20 pounds. Add in hands that challenge the San Antonio Spurs‘ Kawhi Leonard for biggest in the league, and you have to think that he has all the tools to turn into an absolute stud at some point.
The question is when will this take place? His coach is clearly going to experiment with his lineups, as evidenced by hinting that Antetokounmpo could in fact be the team’s point guard for much of the upcoming season if all goes right. The thought of Antetokounmpo running point is ridiculously exciting, if incredibly risky at the same time. After all, Antetokounmpo only averaged 1.9 APG last year as a rookie. But that was when he was playing shooting guard or small forward for the Bucks, while only playing 24.6 MPG.
With a new sense of confidence after the growing he has gone through over this offseason, and with a coach already wanting to try him out in a very unique situation, Antetokounmpo has to be coming in feeling like he can flat out take over the league if he wants to.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. He is only 19, after all. Also, when comparing him to George, it took PG-13 another year before he really started going places. It was not until his third year that he began to look dominant and fully confident in his abilities.
I think the same is fair to say of Antetokounmpo. His ball handling will certainly be put to the test this year given how tall he is and the fact that he is so young. It will be good for him, and if he passes with flying colors, he could very well become the next Kevin Durant in terms of his ability to be almost seven feet tall and still glide down the court with the ball in his hands effortlessly. He would be virtually impossible to guard if he really hones these skills.
He will become a much better player this year, and probably average something around 14 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 4.0 APG. If he is also playing defense on the opposing team’s point guard, he could really frustrate given his size and huge hands.
Of course, there are a lot of “ifs,” like there should be with any 19-year-old NBA player entering his second year in the league. It is clear that the Bucks are envisioning building their team around Parker and Antetokounmpo, which is an excellent plan. The Bucks have not had a young, exciting team in a long time. It will also be interesting to see how patient Kidd is with his young core of guys.
I think it is pretty realistic to expect Parker to become a star right away given the situation he is coming into, while Antetokounmpo will show signs of improvement; but expecting him to become a full-fledged superstar is a little much to be asking of a teenager.
If he does become an All-Star caliber player in the league this year, I would not be surprised either. I think he could very well have the same career trajectory arc as George, which means he could very well take over the league in 2-3 years if he keeps working on his game and his confidence keeps growing.
If this happens, the Bucks could become a surprisingly good squad quicker than many think.