- by Kyle Hancox
- Senior Writer
For all the talk of future NBA superstars in Minnesota, New York and Philadelphia, there is one guy in Milwaukee who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as any player tipped to be an All-Star or champion in the next decade.
The Bucks are a funny team. They regressed last season having reached the playoffs in 2015, finishing with a 33-49 record – the worst in the Central Division – and now find themselves at .500 16 games into the new campaign. Good enough for seventh in the east.
Last night was a real statement win. Blowing out the Cleveland Cavaliers, who boasted their full arsenal of talent in the ‘big three’ of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
But the trio was powerless to stop the irresistible force of point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who put on a show for the ages to finish with a stat line of 34/12/5/5 – the only player alongside LeBron to do it under the age of 22.
A lot of NBA fans know about the Greek Freak, it’s hard not to. But playing in the small market of Wisconsin, there are still people that may not appreciate the extent of this kid’s – yes, he is still only 21 – ability.
He’s yet to appear in an All-Star game, hasn’t received any end-of-season awards outside of an All-Rookie second team spot and only has one Player of the Week award. But he is a superstar in the making.
Giannis is a physical specimen. Standing at 6’11, weighing 222lb and possessing a 7’3 wingspan, there aren’t many who can live with the European talent.
And since Jason Kidd opted to let him run the point, the former 15th pick has been on a tear. This season he is averaging 22.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.1 steals and 2.1 blocks – leading the franchise in every stat but dimes.
Bucks head coach, Kidd, recently joked that his lack of stardom was due to his hard to pronounce name, but it won’t be long before the Athens native, who is already a cult hero this side of the Atlantic, is dominating air time stateside.
In the popularity contest that is the All-Star Game, it would be a crime if the forward did not become the first Buck since Michael Redd in 2004 to play in the showpiece event.
But time is on his side; he’s only 21, and that’s the scary part. Following his four-year, $100 million extension over the summer, there has been a statistical improvement across the board for the fourth-year pro. When talking about future superstars, this European-born talent has to be among the first names on your list.