The Milwaukee Bucks found a franchise small forward. Or not. Who knows at this point.
But here's what we do know about the 18-year-old, sushi-raw Giannis Antetokoumpo in one handy dandy, easy to spell cheat sheet:
NBA Ceiling (via SBNation): Scottie Pippen (Please take this with a grain of salt. There's no way to know right now.)
NBA Floor (via SBNation): Thabo Sefolosha
YouTube highlights (Unlike the Bucks' last foreign draft pick):
- Mr. Fantastic-like length (7'3" wingspan)
- Enormous hands
- Grew three inches in last 10 months
- "All of the physical tools"
- Shot blocking
- Ball handling (doubles as a point-forward)
- Athletic finisher
- Not a power forward/center
- VERY weak competition
- Incredibly raw
- Low shot release
- Inconsistent shooter
- Mediocre first step
- Only been out of Greece once in his life
John Hammond's fawning quotes on the Greek Freak:
On the pick's motives...
"When you go into the draft, people say this, and I think you have to live by it. You say you're going to take the best player on the board. With the 15th pick that's what we did. We took the most talented player on the board."
On when Antetokounmpo caught their eye...
"We started watching him after Christmas, got excited about what we saw."
On whether Antetokounmpo will stay overseas...
"He's going to come right away."
On Antetokounmpo's strengths...
"I really think this is a guy that, I don't know how we acquire a player of this type of ability, this type of potential he has, this kid is 18 years old, he's not going to be 19 until December. He's 6'9", I'm not sure how much bigger he's going to get. He's got a tremendous skill set, he loves handling the ball. His favorite thing is to grab it off the glass and take it himself in transition. He has amazing vision. He shoots the ball well. Everything is going to come easier for him as he keeps working."
On Antetokounmpo's potential...
"I know we're all giddy, everybody's giddy on draft night. I think, you haven't heard me say very often, I remember when we drafted Brandon we said he had All-Star speed and quickness. That's all we said, and I do think, I don't think we made a habit of saying this sort of thing, but I do think this kid has potential All-Star talent. It's going to take some work, he loves the game, he plays extremely hard. He's got a real passion for the gym and he wants to be great."
On whether he will start in the D-League...
"The best thing to do is keep him right here with us. Be around NBA players, be around NBA games, be around NBA travel."
On taking a risk...
"When you talk about the comparisons between like a poor man's Kevin Durant, I will say this: There were safer picks on the board for us. There were safer picks. But nothing with this upside. Nothing close to this. That's the real key component to what we have here. How are we going to get our next All-Star? I don't want to put that on this kid's shoulders, but he has that skill set."
"That was the safer picks. We liked those players. I don't want to start naming names, because those players are for sure off the board now. We'll answer that question in free agency."
Coach Larry Drew:
On Antetokounmpo's skill set...
"I remember just watching this kid, just watching his games. And for me, it's to look at his skill level. I remember watching him the first day and just seeing where this kid was. It's pretty amazing. A kid this young, physically he is not a very strong kid, but I'm talking about skills, his ability to get in between those lines and do things. Just sitting with John yesterday, I was shaking my head and I said, ‘John, he will not be there at 15.' I am really excited."
"This kid has a chance to be very, very special. At 6'9" he handles the ball, he sees the floor. He does defend. He's very, very rangy."
On Antetokounmpo's weaknesses...
"He has some work to do, there's no doubt about it. We've got to get him stronger. We've got to get him used to playing stronger guys. But he'll learn fast. He wants to prove he can get better, and this is really, again, just looking at where we're selecting, and ask ourselves, ‘Who is the best player?' To me, hands down, we made the decision."
Our Early Reaction:
Damn. Just read those quotes again.
Other than possessing a name that makes Oconomowoc, Menomonee Falls and Wauwatosa look like Smith, Jones, and Williams, it's hard to be anything but compelled right now. John Hammond and Larry Drew were practically patting themselves on the back heading up to the podium for the introductory press conference.
This is the second time Hammond has opted for the youngest player in the draft (2011 - Tobias Harris), and it's already his most controversial, in a way that doesn't send bile up your esophagus. At best, Antetokounmpo reaches the incredible ceiling Hammond and Drew set for him. At worst, he flames out as a member of a draft class many already consider to be incredibly weak. Given Hammond's track record with first round picks, I'd bet on the former rather than the latter.
We wanted a splash, and this feels like a typhoon. We wanted a long term move, so embrace the crashing waves.