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What if Giannis Antetokounmpo Debuted in 2004?

What we’re gonna do right here is go way back. How far we going back? Way back!

With the 15th selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo from Athens, Greece; he last played for Filathlitikos in Greece. The 6’9” 196 pound teenager donned the Milwaukee draft day cap and hit the ground running as he entered an NBA landscape dominated by the reigning champion Miami Heat and their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.


What if Giannis had been drafted by the Bucks almost a decade earlier in the summer of 2004*, right after the Detroit Pistons knocked off the Los Angeles Lakers for their first title since 1990? Would he have developed into the perennial All-Star we know today dueling with division rivals Tayshaun Prince and a second-year LeBron? How would Antetokounmpo have produced playing alongside All-Star Michael Redd? How would the Bucks’ franchise trajectory change?

Luckily, the technology to answer these questions was under my nose the entire time. I dusted off my Nintendo GameCube, polished up my NBA Live 2005 disc, and traveled back in time and see what transporting a generational talent into a different generation would look like.

For control purposes, I user-controlled the Milwaukee Bucks but did not make any user-initiated roster moves other than re-signing Giannis. This would not have been any fun if the CPU traded him to the Seattle SuperSonics or let him walk in free-agency. I also turned simulation injuries off because having time-traveling Giannis pull a Jabari Parker would not have been fun.

I started Giannis out at 6’9” and 196 pounds for his rookie year and then ticked his height up an inch after his rookie and sophomore seasons until he stood at the listed 6’11” that he does now. I let the computer progression take control of his weight since training and nutrition was different 15 years ago compared to today.

I listed Giannis’ primary position as small forward, with power forward being his secondary position. He started out as a human walking stick and I could not throw him at the power forward position in 2004. When crafting his attributes, I used the “Ball Handling SF” template and scaled the attributes down until he was at 63 overall, his rookie year rating from NBA 2K14. I encountered a bit of a hiccup when entering his last name—it was too long for the Create-a-Player threshold. Fortunately, there is an alternate spelling, “Adetokunbo,” that fits within the character limit.

So without further ado, let’s see how bizzaro Giannis’ career turned out.

*I realize the Bucks traded their 2004 1st round pick to the Denver Nuggets, who traded it to the Detroit Pistons, who traded it to the Atlanta Hawks, who ultimately selected Josh Smith, but work with me here.

2004/05 Season - Year 1

Season line: 6.7 PPG/3.2 RPG/1.7 APG/0.6 SPG/0.5 BPG; 48.1 eFG%, 46.7 TS%

Real life season line: 6.8/4.4/1.9/0.8/0.8; 46.3%, 51.8%

Giannis’ rookie year went about as well as you would expect for an unknown teenager coming off the bench. He was behind Keith Van Horn and Desmond Mason in the rotation pecking order and averaged 15 minutes per game. He managed to beat out Michael Redd in three-point percentage (38.8 percent to Redd’s 38.5 percent), but Redd attempted nearly 400 more (467 to Giannis’ 80), so I don’t think that counts. Giannis was not invited to participate in the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge but he was named to the All-Rookie Second Team.

The Bucks finished the season with a 37-45 record and managed to make the playoffs. It took until the 82nd game for the Bucks to clinch the eighth seed, but they managed to pull off the Herb Kohl special. They were promptly bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the top-seeded Pistons in five games. Those same Pistons went on to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in seven games and captured their second straight NBA Championship.

What actually happened: the Bucks finished 30-52, last in the Central Division, and 13th in the Eastern Conference. Michael Redd led the way with 23 points per game and T.J. Ford missed the entire season with a neck injury. Head coach Terry Porter was fired and Milwaukee went on to win the draft lottery and select Andrew Bogut first overall in the 2005 draft. The NBA Finals were won by the Spurs who dethroned the Pistons in seven games.

NBA debut against the Orlando Magic
Home debut against the Cleveland Cavaliers
Playoff debut against the Detroit Pistons

2005/06 Season - Year 2

Season line: 8.4 PPG/4.2 RPG/2.1 APG/0.7 SPG/0.8 BPG; 47.4 eFG%, 49.1 TS%

Real life season line: 12.7/6.7/4.3/0.9/1.0; 49.6%, 55.2%

During the 2005 off-season, Keith Van Horn’s contract was up and he was asking for too much money, so the Bucks let him walk. That scooted Giannis up to the sixth man role within the lineup as Desmond Mason took over starting duties. With the increased role, his minutes shot up to 22 per game. His three-point shooting decreased (38.8 to 31.4), but his free throw percentage increased (56.8 to 67.8). Adetokunbo was named a starter for the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge after being passed over for the exhibition in his rookie campaign.

Once again the Bucks playoff hopes rested on the final regular season game’s outcome, and just like the previous the year, Milwaukee got the big win. They clinched the seventh seed and a 40-42 record behind a 24-point, ten rebound effort from Giannis—the best game of his career up to this point. The Bucks pulled off the first round upset over the Boston Celtics in six games and went on to lose a heartbreaking seven game series to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Fans were treated to a Spurs/Pistons rematch but this one ended with the Spurs getting revenge and winning in six games.

What actually happened: with the number one draft pick on their roster and a new head coach in Terry Stotts, the Bucks made the playoffs as an eight seed with a 40-42 record. They were immediately bounced from the playoffs in five games by the Pistons. The Heat won the NBA Finals in six games over the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat, of course, were led by former Marquette great, Dwyane Wade.

Highlight reel dunk in the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge
24 points and ten rebounds to clinch playoff birth in final regular season game against the Toronto Raptors
Bucks in Six over the Boston Celtics

2006/07 Season - Year 3

Season line: 14.0 PPG/6.9 RPG/3.9 APG/1.3 SPG/1.2 BPG; 43.9 eFG%, 46.0 TS%

Real life season line: 16.9/7.7/4.3/1.2/1.4; 52.0%, 56.6%

With power forward being the only position of need heading into the new season, and Giannis showing up to training camp standing tall at 6’11” and 207 pounds, the coaching staff decided to promote Adetokunbo into the starting lineup at the four spot. Giannis’ first year in the starting five came with mixed results as he was second on the team in scoring and minutes (35 per game), but was an inefficient scorer. He posted the first 30+ point game of his career, scoring 33 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Bucks improved to 41-41 but finished tenth in the Eastern Conference, two games from the final playoff spot. The Pistons made it to another NBA Finals and squared off against first time finalists, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pistons dispatched of the T-Wolves in six game to claim their third championship in four years.

What actually happened: Head coach, Terry Stotts, was fired late in the season as Milwaukee posted the third worst record in the NBA at 28-54. Larry Krystkowiak finished out the remainder of the season and was then installed as the new head coach. This was also the season where Milwaukee abandoned the purple logo in favor of the red and shiny green logo. LeBron James broke through and led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, but got swept by the Spurs.

33 points against the Portland Trail Blazers for first career 30+ point performance

2007/08 Season - Year 4

Season line: 15.8 PPG/7.2 RPG/4.1 APG/1.3 SPG/1.5 BPG; 47.1 eFG%, 49.6 TS%

Real life season line: 22.9/8.8/5.4/1.6/1.9; 54.1%, 59.9%

Milwaukee’s starting lineup saw another shake-up with Jonathan Bender joining the club in free agency to solidify the front court (please don’t laugh). Concurrently, Giannis overtook Desmond Mason for the starting small forward spot, relegating Mason to a sixth man role. In his second season as a starter, Giannis improved his scoring efficiency, especially at the free throw line (67.4 to 73.9 percent). He flirted with a handful of triple-doubles throughout the season, but always came up a few rebounds or assists short.

The Bucks were a top five team in the East for the first half of the season, but then an 11-game losing streak happened immediately after the All-Star break and crushed any dreams of home court advantage. Fortunately (or maybe not), they were able to snag the eighth seed with a 37-45 record, however, they were predictably swept by the Pistons. Those same Pistons were eliminated by the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wizards dispatched of the Mavericks in six games to claim their first title in 30 years.

What actually happened: the Bucks started the season by drafting Yi Jianlian sixth overall and it only got worse from there. They regressed and managed only 26 wins and Krystkowiak was given the boot immediately after the season ended. Scott Skiles was signed to head coaching duties shortly after. The souped-up Celtics took down the Lakers in six games and Kevin Garnett gave us a beautiful moment.

2008/09 Season - Year 5

Season line: 11.8 PPG/6.1 RPG/3.3 APG/1.2 SPG/1.2 BPG; 42.4 eFG%, 45.3 TS%

Real life season line (so far): 27.8/10.4/4.8/1.4/1.3; 55.3%, 60.6%

Giannis moved back over to the power forward spot due to Milwaukee signing Josh Smith during free agency (Editor’s note: WHY?!?!?!). He responded on opening night with a new career high of 39 points against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there as the Greek Freak struggled to capture the consistency he had last season. Once again, a season at the power forward position brought out the inefficient player in Giannis as he posted career lows in field goal and three-point shooting (40.4 and 26.3 percent).

Despite a shockingly down year from Giannis, the Bucks ascended to the fifth best record in the East at 45-37. They faced their division rival, the Indiana Pacers, in the first round and disposed of them in five games. Milwaukee faced Detroit in the next round and failed once again to get past them, losing in five games. The Spurs repeated their 2006 Finals performance and eliminated the Pistons in seven games.

What actually happened: Under their new head coach, the Bucks finished last in the division and 12th in the East with a 34-48 record. The Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in the summer of 2008 and became the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kobe Bryant carried the Lakers to a championship over the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic.

Two of Adetokunbo’s 39 points against the New York Knicks during the season opener
Thunderous dunk in the series clinching fifth game against the Indiana Pacers

2009/10 Season - Year 6

Season Line: 13.3 PPG/8.3 RPG/3.4 APG/1.4 SPG/1.4/ BPG; 43.0 eFG%, 45.2 TS%

Another change to the lineup as Giannis moved back to small forward and Josh Smith sliding down to sixth man duties. A return to his familiar position within the offense did not quite yield the same results from his fourth season, but he showed improvements over last season’s dismal output. He recorded his first career triple-double (13 points, ten rebounds, ten assists) against the Magic. A fledgling Milwaukee Bucks facebook fan page loudly wonders if his confidence has hit rock bottom and whether he has what it takes to regain his form next season heading into a contract year.

The Bucks clinched their second straight winning season and the seventh seed with a 42-40 record. Milwaukee was carried to the post-season by MVP, Michael Redd. Redd led the league in scoring with 25.7 points per game and knocked down 46 percent(!) of his three-pointers. The Bucks faced off with the Wizards in the first round and held a 2-1 series lead before they dropped the next three games and got bounced in six games. The Pacers took down the Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals and completed a 3-1 series Finals comeback over the Mavericks to claim their first ever title.

What actually happened: this was the season that birthed the “Fear the Deer” movement and saw the Bucks win their most games since 2000/01. Brandon Jennings set the franchise rookie scoring record with 55 points. Unfortunately, the 46-36 Bucks lost a seven game series to the Hawks in the first round. The Lakers would go back-to-back and knock off the Celtics in a classic, seven game series.

Giannis puts the exclamation mark on his first career triple-double

2010/11 Season - Year 7

Season line: 16.6 PPG/9.0 RPG/5.1 APG/1.6 SPG/1.8 BPG; 48.4 eFG%, 52.7 TS%

Giannis finally surpassed his fourth year marks after another year at the small forward position. He tallied his first 40+ point game, scoring 43 against the Sacramento Kings. Giannis recorded three triple-doubles in his bounce-back season. He victimized the New Jersey Nets, Toronto Raptors, and the Lakers for those triple-double performances. Adetokunbo averaged a career best 39 minutes a game in his age-25 season as he helped shoulder the load from last season’s MVP.

During the off-season the Bucks front office received a trade offer from the Los Angeles Clippers: Jonathan Bender and a second round pick for Chris Kaman. That offer was accepted immediately. The Bucks improved to 45-37 but found themselves with the seventh seed again. They faced off with the defending champion Pacers and got swept, losing the four games by a combined 11 points. Led by Finals MVP Ron Artest, Indiana would go on to sweep Sacramento and capture their second straight championship.

What actually happened: the Bucks could not parlay their 2010 playoff push into success the following season. Milwaukee finished two games out of the playoffs with a 35-47 record. This was the season after “The Decision” and the Heat steamrolled their way into the Finals before meeting a Dirk Nowitzki-sized wall and losing 4-2 to the Mavericks.

Giannis gets the and one against the Sacramento Kings in his first career 40+ point game

2011/12 Season - Year 8

Season line: 19.6 PPG/9.7 RPG/6.5 APG/1.6 SPG/2.3 BPG; 52.7 eFG%, 56.3 TS%

Giannis made the leap. He was named to his first All-Star team as the starting small forward. Adetokunbo joined Michael Redd, making his seventh All-Star game, on the Eastern Conference roster. Giannis improved drastically in his three-point shooting, going from 34.2 to 40.8 percent (see? he does need a jump shot). He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November and April. Giannis was named to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive Second Team and finishing second in MVP voting to LeBron James.

The Bucks decided to reload their roster and, somehow, did not improve. They finished the year 43-39 and laid claim to the eighth seed while finishing fourth in the Central Division. For the third time in four years, the Bucks faced the Pacers in the first round and just like last year, got swept. Unlike last year, Milwaukee lost all four games by a combined 63 points. The Pacers would win their third straight title, sweeping the Phoenix Suns. Reggie Miller (the lead ABC/ESPN color commentator in this universe) becomes a target for the first ever collective Twitter cyberbullying effort.

What actually happened: in a lockout shortened season, the Bucks once again claimed the ninth spot in the East standings, this time with a 31-35 record. Former first overall pick, Andrew Bogut, was traded to the Golden State Warriors in March, leaving Brandon Jennings as the lone bright spot on the roster. LeBron James captured his first title as the Heat marched back to the Finals and trounced the Thunder in five games.

All-Star Game debut

2012/13 Season - Year 9

Season line: 21.7 PPG/9.9 RPG/5.9 APG/1.8 SPG/2.5 BPG; 53.2 eFG%, 56.6 TS%

Milwaukee’s front office made the difficult decision to not re-sign Michael Redd as the All-Star/former-MVP wanted too much money for his post-prime years. So, the Bucks signed J.R. Smith to be Giannis’ sidekick. Smith participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, while Adetokunbo took part in the Three-Point Shootout (seems backwards) as well as the All-Star game. Giannis surprised everyone and knocked off Andrei Kirilenko, 23-21 in the finals, to grab hold of the Three-Point Shootout crown.

That would be the only positive take away from what was a dreadful season of basketball. Giannis earned Eastern Conference Player of the Month for March and April and was named to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive Second Team, but the Bucks unfortunately finished five games out of the playoffs with a 38-44 record. Other than Giannis, the entire starting lineup struggled, shooting 39 percent from the field. Smith shot a dreadful 29 percent from three. The Wizards swept the Mavericks to capture their second title in six seasons.

What actually happened: John Henson was selected with the 14th pick in the 2012 Draft and Scott Skiles got the axe after a 16-16 start to the season. Jim Boylan took over and led the Bucks to a 38-42 record and the eighth seed. This was also the season where the front office traded Tobias Harris for a half-season of JJ Redick. Once again, the Heat stormed through the East and won a classic, seven game series over the Spurs, in large part due to this Ray Allen three-pointer.

2013 Three-Point Shootout Champion, Giannis Adetokunbo

2013/14 Season - Year 10

Season line: 19.6 PPG/9.4 RPG/6.8 APG/1.8 SPG/2.0 BPG; 54.0 eFG%, 57.2 TS%

Giannis continued to put his stamp on being one of the best players in the NBA. He got off to a hot start and was named Player of the Month in November and December. He was also named an All-Star starter for the third straight season and found himself on the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive Second Team, again. The Bucks ended the season on a nine game home stand (what a scheduling oddity) and won seven of those nine games to finish the year 47-35 and laid claim to the familiar eighth seed. Milwaukee dropped the first game against Indiana and then ripped off four straight wins to pull off the upset in five games.

Then a miracle happened.

Down 3-0 to the Chicago Bulls, the Bucks rallied to force a seventh game and won it in nail-biting fashion, 89-88. Riding high, Milwaukee swept Atlanta to advance to their first Finals since 1974. Facing off against the New Orleans Hornets, every game was decided by less than ten points and every game was won by the road team, which means that the eighth-seeded Bucks won the Finals in seven games. Giannis was named Finals MVP, averaging 19 points and 10.5 rebounds. His acceptance speech at the Smoothie King Center (still called that in this universe) was simply, “I told you I loved smoothies.”

What actually happened: in the summer of 2013, the Bucks drafted Giannis and traded Brandon Jennings to the Pistons for Khris Middleton and others. However, the Bucks would finish 15-67, their worst record in franchise history. In April, Herb Kohl sold the team to Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, etc. and rumors swirled about the team leaving Milwaukee. The Heat showed up in the Finals for the fourth straight season but got walloped by the Spurs in five games.

Key steal in game seven to complete 3-0 comeback against the Chicago Bulls
Fade away jumper in the Eastern Conference clinching game against the Atlanta Hawks
Giannis secures the rebound and the Bucks’ second NBA Championship

2014/15 Season - Year 11

Season line: 17.9 PPG/9.2 RPG/5.6 APG/1.6 SPG/2.0 BPG; 50.7 eFG%, 54.0 TS%

Coming down from the high of winning an NBA championship, Giannis turned in one of the poorer seasons he has had over the last handful of years. His three-point shooting cratered from 35.5 to 27.3 percent. He was named to the All-Star team again, but finished outside the top-five of MVP voting for the first time in three years. Adetokunbo was named to the All-NBA and All-Defensive Second Teams and relinquished some of his newly earned clout to LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

The Bucks continued their tradition of not having home court advantage in the first round by securing the seventh seed with a 46-36 record. They would get an Eastern Conference Finals rematch with the Hawks in the first round, and won in six games with their four victories coming by a combined eight points. The second round against the 76ers was not as kind to the Bucks as they lost in six games. The Pacers won their fourth title in six years, knocking off the Trail Blazers in seven games.

What actually happened: Milwaukee landed the second overall pick and selected Jabari Parker who tore his ACL the following December. Jason Kidd came over from the Brooklyn Nets and began his reign as head coach. Milwaukee finished 41-41 and snagged the sixth seed but lost in six games to the Bulls. The Warriors would emerge from the post-Miami big three hell-scape as the new alpha dogs, knocking off the Cavaliers in six games.

2015/16 Season - Year 12

Season line: 18.5 PPG/8.7 RPG/5.8 APG/1.8 SPG/2.0 BPG; 50.3 eFG%, 53.1 TS%

A little bit of a bounce-back year for Giannis, but his efficiency numbers marginally decreased despite his scoring increase. He reclaimed his starting spot in the All-Star Game and earned Player of the Month honors in November and January, but once again found himself outside the top-five in MVP voting. The Freak also reclaimed his spot on the All-NBA First Team, but was not named to the All-Defensive Team.

Milwaukee finished just two games out of the top seed in the East, but had to settle for sixth place with a 49-33 record. They got another crack at the Philadelphia squad that eliminated them last year, but squandered a 3-1 series lead to make a first round exit. Milwaukee lost the final two games of the series by a combined seven points—brutal. The Utah Jazz returned the favor, however, coming back from down 3-1 to beat the 76ers in the Finals and secure Utah’s first NBA title.

What actually happened: the young Bucks could not build on last season’s success and finished 12th in the East with a 33-49 record. The infamously horrible Greivis Vasquez trade was made during the summer of 2015 and the franchise re-branded to the current logo set we know and love today. In a Finals rematch, the Cavaliers famously overcame a 3-1 series deficit to the Warriors to their first title.

2016/17 Season - Year 13

Season line: 19.9 PPG/9.0 RPG/6.4 APG/1.8 APG/2.1 BPG; 49.9 eFG%, 52.6 TS%

In his age-31 season, Giannis refused to accept he was in a post-prime decline. So he went out and won the MVP. In what was a controversial decision, he won the league’s highest honor over defending MVP, Amare Stoudemire, who averaged 22.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, and two blocks per game. Giannis was better on the defensive end and recorded four more assists per game than the Suns standout. Adetokunbo was the East’s best player in February and April and was named an All-Star starter and to the All-NBA First team.

Milwaukee posted their first 50-win season since the 2000/01 team and finished atop the Eastern Conference posting a 54-28 record. The Bucks faced off against their old pals, the Pacers, and won a hotly contested game seven, 102-95, to set-up a series against the Charlotte Bobcats. Milwaukee could get nothing going against Charlotte and fell into a 3-0 hole and were unable to channel the magic of their 2014 playoff run, losing in five games. The freakin’ Bobcats went on to win the NBA championship beating the Trail Blazers in six games.

What actually happened: Milwaukee drafted Thon Maker and future Rookie of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon and finished sixth in the East. The 42-40 Bucks went up 2-1 on the Raptors but ultimately lost the first round series in six games. The Warriors won their second championship in three years against the Cavaliers, led by Finals MVP Kevin Durant.

MVP Giannis gets the tough shot to go down against the Pacers in game seven

2017/18 Season - Year 14

Season line: 16.7 PPG/9.6 RPG/5.7 APG/1.4 SPG/1.8 BPG; 48.6 eFG%, 52 TS%

Like an interstellar star that shines brightest before it implodes, it appeared Giannis’ MVP season was his brightest moment as his age looked to have caught up with him. He made the All-Star roster, but not as a starter, and was named Player of the Month in December. The Greek Freak settled in comfortably on the All-NBA Second Team. His efficiency to score in the paint continued to slowly wane and wanting to limit the physical toll on his body, Giannis attempted a career-high 256 three-pointers and converted on 35.2 percent of them.

The Bucks cracked the 50-win threshold once more at 51-31, but that was only good for fifth in the Eastern Conference. A first round match-up against the Hawks yielded past results with the Bucks easily winning the series in five games. The 60-win Heat were up next in the conference semi-finals and the Bucks clawed back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a game seven, but lost by ten. The Heat went onto win the Eastern Conference and played a seven game series against the Suns, but came up short as Phoenix won their first NBA title.

2018/19 Season - Year 15

Season line: 17.0 PPG/9.2 RPG/5.8 APG/1.5 SPG/1.8 BPG; 48.0 eFG%, 51.1 TS%

In the final year of his contract, Giannis was able to stabilize any sort of major dip in production he experienced last season. His efficiency numbers continued to slip ever so slightly overs but that has not deterred the savvy veteran. He earned his eighth straight trip to the All-Star game and squeaked into the All-NBA First Team and broke his three year drought from All-Defensive Second Team honors.

For the third straight season, Milwaukee posted a 50+ win season, but this time they won 59 games and were able to shore up the number one seed in the East by two games over the Heat. Just like two seasons ago, the Bucks faced off against the eighth seeded Pacers and the series went seven games. Unlike two seasons ago, the Bucks got routed in the series finale and made a disappointing exit. Bucks Twitter was besides themselves. We were treated to a Finals rematch and this time around the Heat swept the Suns.

2019/20 Season - Year 16

Season line: 15.8 PPG/8.8 RPG/5.3 APG/1.7 SPG/1.6 BPG; 44.7 eFG%, 48.1 TS%

Giannis re-signed with the Bucks on a one year deal and rumors swirled that this would be his last season in the NBA. The rumors grew louder when it was revealed Giannis was not selected to what would have been his ninth All-Star Game. He posted the third worst shooting percentage of his career (41.2 percent) and transitioned from Milwaukee’s go-to option to a reliable role player within the starting lineup.

With an over-the-hill core and not quite ready to contribute young guys, the Bucks finished 36-46, two games from the eighth seed and the playoffs. For the third straight season fans were treated to a Heat/Suns Finals. Phoenix avenged last season’s sweep and took round three from Miami in seven games.

2020/21 Season - Year 17

Season line: 12.7 PPG/8.7 RPG/5.0 APG/1.1 SPG/1.7 BPG; 42.7 eFG%, 44.4 TS%

In the off-season, the front office called a joint press conference with Giannis and everyone assumed that this would be the retirement announcement that was months in the making. That was half true. Adetokunbo announced he was signing another one-year deal with Milwaukee and that this season would be his last as the soon-to-be 35 year old expressed a desire to go back to Greece and help continue to grow the game of basketball there and throughout Europe. In his final home game, Giannis finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. The Bucks beat the Celtics, 113-103, and after the final horn, Giannis took a few laps around the court thanking the Milwaukee faithful.

The Bucks finished the season 42-40 and in a five-way tie for the fifth seed. Unfortunately, all the tiebreakers went against them and Milwaukee was the odd team out sitting in ninth place. The Trail Blazers upended the Nets (one of the four teams Milwaukee was tied with) in seven games to win their first title since 1977.

One last highlight dunk in Giannis’ final home game

During Giannis’ 17-year career, the Milwaukee Bucks went 752-642 and made the playoffs 13 times. While in the playoffs, the Bucks were only able to post a 55-64 record and advanced past the second round once. However, the one time they made it the conference finals, they made it count by winning the East and the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2014.

Not only did the Bucks raise banners for a conference and league championship, they won two Central Division titles (2017 & 2019) as they waited out the Central Division dynasties that were the Pistons and Pacers who combined for six NBA titles during this 17 year stretch.

Aside from team success, bizzaro Giannis turned in what should be a Hall of Fame career as he tallied the following accolades:

  • 8x All-Star
  • 6x All-NBA First Team
  • 2x All-NBA Second Team
  • 5x All-Defensive Second Team
  • MVP
  • Finals MVP
  • NBA Champion

I was most surprised by how underwhelming his peak years were. Adetokunbo only averaged more than 20 points per game once (granted he averaged 19.9 one year which is close enough, really) and was never able to eclipse a double digit rebound average. The real life Giannis has put up numbers better than his video game self and he is not even in his prime yet.

This whole exercise was to see what would happen if Giannis played a decade earlier. So the take away question here is: would you trade universes and see the Bucks finish in the back half of the East time and time again, but win a championship and rattle off a few 50+ win seasons? Or do you want to take your chances and roll the dice on the future that real life Giannis and the real life Bucks will give us?