Greece is synonymous for being the home of the gods. It’s also the birthplace of the Olympics, and is rich in sports history.
Basketball isn’t one of the countries more prevalent pastimes, but the sport has really caught on over the last few years, due in large part to the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
There has never been a Greek basketball superstar as imposing as Antetokounmpo. Standing at a 6-11, the Milwaukee Bucks forward isn’t the tallest active NBA player from Greece, but he is by far the most gifted.
They call Antetokounmpo “The Greek Freak” because of his strong array of basketball measurables. With a 7’3 wingspan, and the ability to play every position on the basketball court, Antetokounmpo has more than lived up to his moniker.
Two seasons into Antetokounmpo’s NBA career, and we haven’t yet seen the potential, that many scouts were proclaiming was can’t miss, on a consistent basis. But there have been periods of exceptional play from Antetokounmpo.
On February 6, 2015, Antetokounmpo recorded 27 points and 15 rebounds against the Houston Rockets, and was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played from February 2-8. And while we saw some stellar basketball from the 20-year-old, many still wanted to see the full arsenal on display.
Antetokounmpo went on to finish the 2014-15 season with 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds. As expected with most developing NBA stars, it’s the third year where you begin to blossom into a legitimate force in the league. So far, Antetokounmpo hasn’t disappointed those waiting for the breakout.
Through two games in the 2015-16 season, Antetokounmpo has produced top-tier numbers for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 22.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. He has effectively used his length and athleticism to get the ball to the hoop, and has on occasion knocked down an open jumper or three-point shot.
There seems to be a new-found sense of confidence in Antetokounmpo this season, and he is willing to take on even the toughest assignments on the court.
“I don’t really look in front of me if it’s a point guard, if it’s a big guy, I think I can guard everybody, even the small guys, even the big guys,” Antetokounmpo stated to ESPN. “I’m going to do what I do as hard as possible.”
It’s that kind of leadership mentality that the Milwaukee Bucks are seeking. Greg Monroe was a huge addition to the team’s frontcourt, but doesn’t display the versatility of Antetokounmpo. Jabari Parker is coming off knee surgery, and has still yet to withstand the rigors of an 82-game NBA season.
Antetokounmpo is the most experienced playmaker on the Bucks roster. Coach, Jason Kidd, has the ability to play him at five different positions, and can rely on his defense in tough matchups. He can best be described as a Swiss Army knife, because you can use him in many situations.
It might be premature to call Antetokounmpo the greatest basketball player in Greece’s history, but you can’t deny that he has god-like ability.