Draft Projection: No. 15: Milwaukee Bucks
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: June 26 Update: Who knows? Really. Antetoukounmpo looks like Kevin Durant, both physically and, at times, even when he's playing on the court. The issue is that he's playing against such poor competition in Greece it's hard to tell whether anyone would look like Durant against those guys. He's years away from being a productive NBA player. Still, with that length, athleticism, shooting ability and floor vision, someone will take a shot on him in the first round. If someone says he knows Antetoukounmpo is going to be a star or a bust, he's lying.
Quick fact: As the primary defender, Antetokounmpo held opponents to 13 percent shooting and 0.43 points per play, which ranked fourth in all European competition (min. 30 plays).
June 25 Update: I continue to hear Antetokounmpo's name here. The Hawks can stash him overseas, let him develop and in a few years, he could be the steal of the draft. Or we'll all forget they drafted him. Either scenario probably works for Atlanta.
June 24 Update: Antetokounmpo, like Larkin, is one of the most polarizing players in the draft. Antetokounmpo got a rating of 3 from one team and a rating of 9 from another four our Secret NBA Draft Big Board. He is truly the hardest player in this draft to peg. His upside is enormous, but he also represents a major risk. With little to no real playing experience against talented opponents, some team will sort of just have to cross its fingers. His draft night range is 12 to 17.
June 18 Update: Antetokounmpo turned a lot of heads last week in Italy playing for Greece's under-20 team. While he still projects as the rawest prospect in the draft, teams were impressed with how he handled himself against stronger competition. The word out of Italy was that there was no way he was getting past the Hawks. He might go higher (the Thunder, Mavericks and Jazz all have interest) but it now looks as if he's secured a top-20 selection.
June 14 Update: Is Giannis Antetokounmpo worthy of a lottery selection? Chad Ford: No. Antetokounmpo has the raw skills and physical tools of a lottery pick -- but then again, so do a dozen or so American prospects each year. The question: Can he use those tools and skills to play basketball at a high level? The answer: No one knows.
He's done it against second-division Greek competition that many Division II or Division III schools could take down. He did it, albeit briefly, for the Greek under-20 team last weekend in Italy, but even the scouts who are highest on him admit he's a minimum of three years away.
That might be worthy of a late first-round pick. But a lottery pick? I don't think so. This draft class is bad, but it's not that bad.
Jay Bilas: No. I have not seen Antetokounmpo in person, only on tape. He clearly has ability, but he seems like he needs more time to develop. And I need more time to learn how to pronounce his name.
June 12 Update: For a long time, international players were a huge mystery to many people at NBA draft time. Even players like Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol were relative unknowns until they were selected in the first round. Today, that has all changed.
NBA teams are devoting more resources to international scouting, and while mistakes are still made, there are few surprises, even for fans.
However, 18-year-old Greek League prospect Giannis Antetokounmpo could be considered one of those players few truly know well. He is expected to be selected somewhere in the mid- to late first round, and Chad Ford's latest mock draft has him going No. 29. But it's fair to say he could be the biggest mystery of the first round.
The 6-foot-9 Antetokounmpo had been playing in Greece's A2 League, its second division, when NBA teams started to study him closely midway through last season. What has intrigued many of them is that he plays point guard much of the time and shows flashes of great passing skills and court vision. See the full Fran Fraschilla blog
June 10 Update: Antetokounmpo was the star of the Eurocamp even though he didn't play a single minute there. His under-20 Greek team played a few exhibition games 40 minutes from Treviso, and a horde of NBA GMs and scouts skipped out of the evening Eurocamp games to take a look as he played against his first real competition of the year. Antetokounmpo's 11 points, six rebounds and four assists in the opening game versus Croatia was met with both praise (for his athletic ability and overall talent) and wariness (virtually every GM and scout I spoke with felt he was years away from contributing at the NBA level). He was much better in the second game, scoring 17 points and grabbing five rebounds in just 20 minutes against Turkey. Unfortunately, many of the NBA scouts who attended the first game didn't come back to see him against Turkey. Antetokounmpo clearly has tremendous upside, and based on the feedback I heard, really helped himself. Some scouts believe he won't get past the Hawks on draft night.
May 28 Update: Antetokounmpo (also seen as Adetokunbo) is still more mystery than anything else. A number of teams are intrigued, especially late in the first round as a draft-and-stash prospect. His draft range is as wide open as that of anyone in the draft. I could see him going as high as No. 16 to Boston, or further down in the first round to Oklahoma City at 29.
May 15 Update: The mystery man from Greece finally has a passport and a correct spelling for his name. However, he didn't get his passport in time to secure a visa for the combine. I'm not sure his agent really wanted him there, however. He's probably better off as a tabula rasa -- a blank slate on whom GMs can project their wildest fantasies.
May 8 Update (Projected No. 26 pick, Minnesota Timberwolves): The Timberwolves have an excellent international scouting staff, and with one lottery pick already in the books at this point, they can afford to take a huge gamble on Antetokounmpo. Granted, he's playing against very poor competition in the second division of the Greek League, but the physical and basketball skills are undeniable. Minnesota can afford to wait and develop him overseas or in the D-League for a few years before trying him out in the NBA.
May 2 Update: The mystery man from Greece has all of the physical tools -- size, crazy length and athleticism -- and is surprisingly skilled. But no one knows how Adetokunbo's game will translate against better competition. Most don't feel he's ready for the D-League, let alone the NBA, but with all of the tools Antetokounmpo has, someone should end up taking him in the first round.
Apr 29 Update: Adetokunbo is this year's international man of mystery. Remember how Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Pavel Podkolzine dazzled in workouts but couldn't really play in a 5-on-5 game? That's where we are at with Adetokunbo. He is playing in a lower Greek league against talent NBA international scouts have dubbed NCAA Division III level.
However, the physical tools are intriguing -- especially in the workouts he's done for NBA personnel. He's a rangy point forward who handles the ball, passes out of the high post and plays in a manner that had at least one GM utter the name of Scottie Pippen. With so few players in the draft having major upside, a number of GMs and scouts in Portland told me that they thought he was worth a second-round pick at the very least and could possibly be worth a pick in the 20s.
However, the red flags are everywhere. Every scout I spoke with said Adetokunbo is not even ready for the D-League, let alone the NBA. He's going to need several more years in Europe to develop. He also is painfully thin, isn't a great shooter and has passport issues that prohibit him from playing in the top Greek leagues, never mind the United States (this explained why he wasn't at the Hoop Summit).
"It's a gamble," one NBA GM said. "In a lot of drafts, you don't make it. In this one, I'm not sure why you wouldn't. There isn't a lot to lose."
April 18 Update: Adetokunbo is a bit of a mystery man. A long, athletic point forward playing in the fourth division in Greece. While no one knows what he'll be like playing against top competition and warn that he's a year or two away from even being ready for the D-League, they see the skill set and size and fell like in a draft filled with little upside, he might be worth taking a gamble on.
Feb 12 Update: Scouts are flocking to Greece to see Adetokunbo and no one is exactly sure what to make of him. He looks great in a workout. He is skilled, especially as a ball handler and passer, and has great size and length for his position. However, he is doing it against incredibly weak competition (one scout compared it to NCAA D-3) and it's unclear how he'll translate against players who have NBA potential. He also has a number of visa issues which complicate the matter.