Giannis keeps growing, sets sights on summer improvement

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

He's jolly, he wears Bucks green, and he's becoming a giant. Giannis Antetokounmpo has definitely been eating his vegetables.

To go from an unknown, untested, and untrusted quantity on the brink of a redshirt season to an NBA contributor, rotation player, and highlight factory who has only added fuel to comparisons to Nicolas Batum (or better) is more than enough to label this season a resounding success for Giannis Antetokounmpo, right? That journey marks some serious growth in his mindset and his game from the predraft phase to the end of Year 1 as an NBA player, but when it comes to calling this season a clear success it kinda depends on who you ask.

We here at Brew Hoop certainly came away impressed with Antetokounmpo's ability to handle a trial by fire on a team that otherwise went up in flames, but when Giannis was asked to grade his own performance as a rookie, he chose to give himself a D-minus. That letter grade is a bit too harsh for our tastes. Then again, there's nothing wrong with Giannis setting the bar high for himself. In case you checked out on this season when things went in the tank, here's a quick glance at Antetokounmpo's stats on the year, via Basketball-Reference:

Gms Gms Started Min/Gm Pts/Gm Reb/Gm Ast/Gm FG% 3P% FT% TS% USG% ORtg DRtg +/-
Pre-All-Star 47 21 24.1 6.9 4.5 1.7 42.7% 31.4% 67.8% 52.0% 15.7 95 110 -8.6
Post-All-Star 30 2 25.5 6.6 4.2 2.3 39.2% 39.6% 69.1% 51.4% 14.1 101 114 -0.3

Better shooting off the dribble, a tighter handle, and increased awareness in half court sets should all be on the list for areas to improve during the summer, and Giannis came away from his exit interview with Larry Drew with a few big picture items as well (via Matt Velasquez and Charles Gardner at JS-Online):

"Coach told me that I did good, so I am happy with myself but I am not satisfied. I've got to work this off-season and come back better. (I have to work on) everything," Antetokounmpo said. "My shot, my dribbling, my body. My coach says I need to work on my explosiveness and being in the right spot defensively.

"I'm going to continue working on my body for sure because I have to get a lot stronger. Coach said my progress was very nice, so I'm just going to try to get some more progress and get better, stronger and bigger."

Here's what head coach Larry Drew had to say (via Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin)

"Did he really [give himself a D-minus grade]?" Drew said. "He's being hard on himself."

...

"I want him to really focus on just getting stronger," Drew said. "He may not be a guy that's going to pick up a lot of size from a strength standpoint, but there is such a thing as wiry strong. I've played against guys and I've coached guys like that.

"He's got to get quicker, more explosive, particularly laterally, so he's able to chase and defend guys out on the perimeter. He still has a lot to learn, but it all starts with his strength."

It's always nice to see player and coach on the same page heading into the offseason; however, it remains to be seen if they will be on the same team next year, as Drew's status could be up in the air given the changes at the top of the organization.

No word on whether Giannis has been told to keep growing, but that apparently keeps happening too. As part of his exit interview, Giannis measured out at 6'9.5" barefoot — which happens to be taller than both John Henson (6'9") and Larry Sanders (6'9.25") measured at their respective predraft combines in 2012 and 2010. Tack on the customary inch or inch-and-a-half for shoes, and you'd guess that Giannis' official height at this point is approaching 6'11". YIKES. Maybe our friend Jon Hartzell of Bucksketball and NBA.com wasn't too far off with this spoof of the Bucks' Greek and Still Growing poster from back in January...

With Milwaukee's season in the books, Giannis will first head home to Greece, but it sounds as if he'll make his way back stateside in May first as part of his brother Thanasis' preparations for the 2014 NBA Draft, and then as part of his own workouts with the Bucks' coaching staff (assuming they are still around). In the JS article linked above, Matt Velasquez and Charles Gardner suggest Giannis will then head to Vegas as part of the Bucks' summer league contingent, which would be fantastic if true. Back in February, Giannis had expressed his interest in playing with the Greek under-20 squad at the European Championships that run from July 8-20, but that was before he received an invite to the senior national team's camp in late July. Greece is among the teams participating in the FIBA World Cup (previously known as the World Championships) that runs the first two weeks of September in Spain, which would seem to dovetail nicely with a trip to Vegas ending in mid-July.

I'm not sure what sort of role is likely with the senior team presumably he has a good shot of making the team, but being an NBA player alone doesn't mean he'll be guaranteed major minutes. If any of our Greek readers want to clue us in on what to expect, let us know in the comments.

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