Anthony Bennett, Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore.
Not too sure whether we should keep naming names, but I think you get the point. All those above (and more) were taken before the Greek Freak in the 2013 NBA Draft (eventually snapped up at 15th overall).
Giannis wasn’t the physical specimen as he is now back then. He was a skinny athletic Greek kid, who was raw but had incredible upside. Milwaukee couldn’t believe their luck when he managed to fall in their lap at the end of the lottery.
He was slow out of the blocks in his rookie season, averaging just shy of 7 PPG and 4.5 RPG. Maybe the experts were right, or maybe he was just a work in progress that was going to take time through multiple off seasons in an NBA system.
That slow start didn’t last long, as in his 3rd season, he was selected to play (and start) in the NBA All Star Game, and the first Greek ever to be selected.
In 2018-19, it was clear Giannis spent a lot of time in the gym in the offseason. Hurt by their playoff series loss to the Raptors the year prior, he came into the season looking like a man possessed, and gone was the long lanky frame from 2013. He was now a Greek Adonis.
He managed to take the Bucks to 7 games against the Boston Celtics that season, unfortunately once again falling short.
Something clicked going into this season though. LeBron had gone West, which opened things up out East. The Bucks maintained their squad that had just lost to Boston in the playoffs, but added Brook Lopez to spread the floor. Giannis had the keys to make this team successful, and they had shooters all over the floor. If he was doubled going to the rim, he’d have a shooter wide open to bury a 3.
It made guarding the Bucks this season extremely tough. If Giannis had a head of steam going to the rim, forget about standing in front of that. He also added a 3 point shot of his own, making it near impossible to guard him.
Giannis was made captain of one the the NBA All Star Teams, a changing of the guard with LeBron at the back end of his career.
He was the reason the Bucks finished with the best overall record in the regular season, but unfortunately they fell to the eventual NBA Champions (Toronto) in 6 crazy games. They ran into a buzzsaw, and his name was Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi locked Giannis up in the Eastern Conference Finals, something that had never been done all year. A sign of how incredible Kawhi played throughout the entirety of the playoffs. Giannis was simply that good that that’s what it took to take him (and the bucks) down.
Some could say the Bucks blew a 2-0 lead against the Raptors. Toronto were just a better team, as shown in the NBA Finals.
But it showed, as Giannis went, the Bucks went. An easy reason why he was awarded with the MVP award.
Giannis will come back on a mission next season. He will want to win back to back MVP awards. But he will also want to go one step further and make the NBA Finals.
If Kawhi leaves, the Bucks and Giannis have inside running. Even if he stays, Antetokounmpo has that added motivation to get them over the line this time round, and he will want to remind everyone why he was named MVP.
Congrats Giannis. A well-deserved winner of the award, and an incredibly emotional speech, showing that he’s not only a freakishly great basketball player, but an even better human.