For the longest time, the general sentiment has been that "winning now" and developing young players were at best difficult balancing acts, and at worse in complete contradiction to one another.
But watching the young Milwaukee Bucks struggle and thrash their way through the early portion of the 13/14 season suggests a rather refreshing truth: for this team, winning now and in the future will only come because of their youth, not in spite of it.
And so it should have been of little surprise that the Bucks finally stopped their long losing streak on a night when their 18-year-old rookie, 21-year-old point guard and 22-year-old skinny big man were front and center. Brandon Knight's near-triple-double and John Henson's first double-double were critical to Milwaukee's 92-85 win over Boston on Saturday night, but the player who changed the tempo and complexion of the game was none other than Giannis Antetokounmpo.
And let's not act surprised. Since the preseason, Milwaukee has always looked livelier with Antetokounmpo's gangly frame sprinting up and down the court, and with Caron Butler and Ersan Ilyasova both nursing injuries, Saturday night presented a rare opportunity to see Antetokounmpo in extended, meaningful minutes. And he didn't disappoint.
Shortly after drilling an off-the-dribble three to beat the shot clock, Antetokounmpo started the most talked-about play of the NBA's Saturday night with a turnover. Not the most auspicious start to a great play, but a few seconds later Giannis had erased his mistake by sprinting the length of the court and taking off from the dotted line to swat Jordan Crawford's shot. And he wasn't finished either, sprinting back up court and taking a Luke Ridnour feed to hammer down a Statue of Liberty dunk that triggered an 18-2 Milwaukee run.
A fast break assist to John Henson, a spot-up three and a baseline cut for another dunk rounded out the highlights, and his line could have been even more impressive had he not missed a pair of free throws and blown another fast break chance on an overlay. No matter.
Antetokounmpo should see regular minutes so long as Caron Butler is out, though the real question is how Larry Drew can afford not to play him when the Bucks are healthier. Giannis seems to know it, too.
"There are a lot of things that people don't know I can do, but you are going to see.
"As the season goes on, you are going to see."
The Bucks may be worth watching after all, eh?
- Brad Stevens seems like a good guy: Sign Guy shines at Bucks game
- Recap: Giannis, Brandon Knight and Sign Guy highlight Bucks end to losing streak
- Bucks final score: Giannis sparks Bucks past Celtics, 92-85
- Celtics vs. Bucks Preview | Milwaukee looks to avoid dirty dozen
- Caron Butler and Ersan Ilyasova out vs. Celtics, John Henson and Ekpe Udoh to start