A year ago Giannis Antetokounmpo was an 18-year-old 6'9" unknown playing in Greece's second division. He didn't even have a passport, much less any certainty that he'd ever be playing basketball at the highest level.
Fast forward 12 months and Antetokounmpo is living a life that probably feels like it's been on, well, fast forward. His promise on a basketball court earned him first a Greek passport, and then a multimillion dollar guaranteed NBA contract as the Bucks' fifteenth overall pick last June.
Life was good, and it's only become better--and faster--in the six months since. Instead of spending his rookie year planted on the bench, he instantly flashed both promise and productivity to start the season, eventually earning 21 starts and major minutes in Larry Drew's rotation despite a laundry list of reasons why he had no business adjusting this well, this fast.
His play earned him a deserved trip to all-star weekend as part of the Rising Stars game last week, and his dance card got a bit busier on Thursday when it was announced that he would also be teaming with DeMar DeRozan in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge--basically a tag team relay involving shooting, passing and ball-handling (and thankfully no tacos).
Giannis' summer is also shaping up to be a busy one, as he recently confirmed his intention to play for Greece's U-20 European Championship team on the Greek island of Crete in July. Via Tony Kalkavouras at Sheridan Hoops:
"I wanna surely join with the National Team of men in a big event like the World Championship , but I do not want to miss the European Championship Under 20, which will take place this summer in Crete."
You are gonna participate in both tournaments? That means that you will spend all the summer playing basketball.
"If I get a call in the Men's Team, I will definitely go. But at that moment, the only thing for sure, is that I am going to play in the European U-20 Championship"
The Euro U-20 tournament runs from July 8-20 and would thus preclude Giannis from playing with the Bucks' summer league squad in Vegas for the second straight summer, while the FIBA World Cup starts at the end of August in Spain. No word yet on whether Giannis will get the call-up to the senior national team, though given Giannis' long-term potential you'd think the Greeks would want to involve him even if he's not a major part of the rotation.