A coronation of Giannis Antetokounmpo could be on the horizon

NBA Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NBA Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo and a potential coronation

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the most dominant player in today’s game. However, the rise of Giannis wasn’t always expected or predicted. Coming into the draft Giannis was a little known Greek, Nigerian prospect without much tape on him.

Looking back on the 2013 NBA pre-draft process, there wasn’t much known on Giannis who fell to 15th in the draft and changed the course of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise.

Giannis didn’t play college basketball like the other players that were drafted before him did, which is perhaps the main reason that he fell so far in the draft. Giannis played for a second Division Greek club, Filathlitikos, prior to debuting for the Bucks as an 18-year-old standing 6-foot-9 and 190 lbs. I can still remember watching tape of Giannis pre-draft and thinking who is this player that can traverse the court with ease and make the dimensions of the game look small because of his long strides and limbs.

Since being drafted, Giannis has grown two inches and is now 6-foot-11 and 242 pounds. Adding two inches in height and 50 pounds in muscle has made Giannis the most dominant player since Shaq was terrorizing defenses with his strength, size, and power. Giannis is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.

Giannis has grown into a point forward that can get to the hoop with two strides from the 3-point line. Giannis has great agility and has developed a beautiful left to right spin move that allows him to attack the basket while avoiding the defenders’ attempts to stop him.

Giannis still has a lot of room to grow in his game as he is only 25 and is working on his jump shot, post game, and becoming a better passer. Despite not yet reaching his full potential, Giannis is still on track to win his second straight MVP trophy leading the Bucks to the league’s best record at 53-12 and is also the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

The NBA MVP race is basically wrapped up after it was revealed that the NBA bubble games won’t count towards the awards balloting. Giannis is the big favorite to win another MVP and is also the favorite to win his first Defensive Player of the Year. Putting together another dominant season, Giannis is poised to lead the Bucks in their quest for an NBA Title.

Perhaps the reason that Giannis became such a dominant player is because of his humble upbringing. Giannis and his family were stateless as they couldn’t obtain Greek citizenship after emigrating from Nigeria. Eventually, Giannis and his family gained Greek citizenship, but only after he made it to the NBA. Giannis and his basketball-playing brothers Thanasis, Kostas, and Alex grew up in a small apartment in Greece and sold goods like watches, jewelry, sunglasses, and toys on the streets of Athens just to have enough money to buy something to eat and help their parents with bills.

During basketball games, the brothers would share basketball shoes because they could only afford one pair. Today, Giannis has his own line of shoes, the Nike Zoom Freak 1 and The Zoom Freak 2 just came out. With deep family ties, Giannis paid homage to his late father on the soles of his shoes with the inscription, “I am my father’s legacy.”

The remarkable rise of Giannis comes from innate physical gifts, self-belief, the desire to be great and being hardened by a tough childhood. Back in 2014, Giannis stated:

"“I don’t want to be a good player, I want to be a great one.”"

Giannis has stepped up his defensive play this season making him one of the best two-way players in basketball. The Bucks have the best offense, averaging 118.7 points per game and the 4th best defense allowing 107.3 points per contest. This blend of elite offense and defense usually has the Bucks blowing out teams thus having the best point differential in the league at an incredible +11.2 points per game.

Outscoring teams by over 11 points during the regular season put the Bucks right up there with some of the best teams in NBA history. All these impressive numbers won’t mean anything if the Bucks falter in the playoffs. In last year’s playoffs, Giannis struggled with the defense of Kawhi Leonard, and those passing lanes that were open for the first two games were suddenly clogged up by the Raptors’ stifling defense.

There are a few teams in the East that could beat the Bucks like the Celtics, 76ers, and Raptors, but the Bucks are expected to reach the NBA Finals. The top 3 title favorites, according to odds, are the Lakers, Bucks, and the Clippers.

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A matchup between LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo is what many expect the NBA Finals to feature. After three scrimmage games, the Bucks are ready to make a championship run. It could end up being a coronation of Giannis and his rise.