Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo 2021

Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo (/ˈjɑːnɪs ˌɑːntɛtʌˈkuːmpoʊ/ YAH-nis AHN-teh-tuh-KOOM-poh; Greek: Γιάννης Σίνα-Ούγκο Αντετοκούνμπο,[1] IPA: [ˈʝanis adetoˈkumbo]; born December 6, 1994)[2] is a Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Born in Greece to Nigerian parents, Antetokounmpo began

playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos in Athens. In 2011, he began playing for the club’s senior team before entering the 2013 NBA draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Bucks. Antetokounmpo’s nationality, in addition to his combination of size, speed and ball-handling skills earned him the nickname “Greek Freak”.

In 2016–17 he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics of total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.[3] He received the Most Improved Player award in 2017. Antetokounmpo has received four All-Star selections, including being selected as an All-Star captain in 2019 and 2020, as he led the Eastern Conference in voting in these two years.

Antetokounmpo is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.

 

Early life and career

Antetokounmpo (Greek script rendition for Adetokunbo) was born in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 1994, the son of immigrants from Nigeria.[4][5][6] Three years earlier, his parents had moved from Lagos, leaving behind their firstborn son, Francis, with his grandparents.[7] Although Antetokounmpo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not

automatically receive full Greek citizenship as the Greek nationality law abides by the jus sanguinis.[5] For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo was effectively stateless, having no papers from Nigeria or Greece.[8] After gaining Greek citizenship in 2013, his family Hellenized their surname from Adetokunbo to Antetokounmpo to more closely follow Greek spelling rules.Antetokounmpo grew up in the Athens neighborhood of Sepolia.[6] His parents, as immigrants, could not easily find work, so Antetokounmpo and his older brother, Thanasis, helped by hawking watches, handbags and sunglasses in the streets.[10] In 2007, Antetokounmpo started playing basketball,[8] and was playing competitively for the youth squad of Filathlitikos by 2009.

 

Filathlitikos (2012–2013)

In 2011 Antetokounmpo played with the senior men’s team of Filathlitikos in the semi-pro Greek B Basket League (Third Division) during the 2011–12 season.[11] In the 2012–13 season he played in the Greek A2 League, Greece’s second division.

In December 2012, a few days after turning 18, Antetokounmpo signed a four-year deal with Spanish club CAI Zaragoza,[12] reportedly including NBA buyouts after each season. A number of other major European clubs had been interested in adding him, including Barcelona and Efes.[5] With the contract starting with the 2013–14 season, he decided to stay with the Filathlitikos for the remainder of the 2012–13 season.

During the 2012–13 Greek A2 League season, Antetokounmpo shot 46.4% from the field (62.1% on two-point field goals), 31.3% from three-point range, and 72.0% from the free throw line, while averaging 22.5 minutes per game. Over 26 games, he averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.0 blocks per game.[13] He was also selected by the coaches as a special

participant in the 2013 Greek League All-Star Game. Even though he was not actually selected as an all-star, the coaches let him play in the game as a treat for the fans.

 

Milwaukee Bucks
Early development (2013–2016)

Antetokounmpo with the Bucks in November 2014
On April 28, 2013, Antetokounmpo officially made himself eligible for the 2013 NBA draft.[15] He fulfilled his draft projections as a first-round pick by being selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. On July 30, 2013, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Bucks.[16][17]

Antetokounmpo made his NBA debut on October 13, 2013, at the age of 18 years, 311 days, as one of the youngest NBA players ever. He averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 77 appearances during his rookie season. He scored in double figures 23 times and grabbed at least 10 rebounds twice, with both efforts resulting in double-

doubles. He finished the season with 61 total blocks, which led all NBA rookies and was the seventh-most by a Bucks rookie in franchise history. He was selected to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, where he tallied nine points, two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. At the season’s end, he was named to the 2013–14 NBA All-Rookie second team.[18]

Antetekounmpo’s second season with the Bucks saw both individual and team development. On February 6, 2015, he recorded a then career-high 27 points and 15 rebounds in a loss to the Houston Rockets.[19] Three days later, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played February 2–8, earning Player of the Week honors for the first time in his

career.[20] He later competed in the 2015 NBA Slam Dunk Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in New York. On March 9, he scored a then career-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.[21] The Bucks finished the

regular season with a 41–41 record, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference. Anteteokounmpo missed just one game during the 2014–15 season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 81 games, and made the playoffs for the first time. However, in the Bucks’ first round playoff match-up with the Chicago Bulls, they were defeated 4 games to 2.

In the 2015–16 season, Antetokounmpo developed further individually, upping his scoring average to almost 17 points per game. On November 19, he scored a then career-high 33 points in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.[22] On December 12, he recorded a near triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, helping the Bucks snap the Golden State Warriors’ 24

game unbeaten start to the season with a 108–95 win.[23] On February 22, 2016, Antetokounmpo recorded his first career triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 108–101 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. At 21 years old, he

became the youngest Buck to record a triple-double.[24][25] He would end the season with 5 triple doubles, including a 28-point and 14 assist effort in a win over the Brooklyn Nets. In doing so, Antetokounmpo set a new Bucks record for most triple doubles in a season, a feat he would equal in the 2018–19 season. However, the Bucks missed the playoffs, with a 33–49 record, 8 games worse than the previous season.

All-Star years (2016–2018)

Antetokounmpo with the Bucks in December 2016
On September 19, 2016, Antetokounmpo agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract extension with the Bucks.[26] Antetokounmpo’s fourth season would be his breakout season, as he further increased his statistical output and ascended to stardom. On December 23, he had a career-high 39 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 123–96 win over the Washington Wizards.[27] A couple weeks later, Antetokounmpo recorded 27 points and 13 rebounds and made his first game-winning

buzzer beater, a 15-foot turnaround jumper which gave the Bucks a 105–104 victory over the New York Knicks.[28] With 25 points against the Knicks on January 6, Antetokounmpo had at least 20 points in his 14th consecutive game, matching the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd in 2006.[29] On January 19, Antetokounmpo was named a starter on the

Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.[30] At 22 years and 74 days old, he became the youngest player in franchise history to start in an All-Star Game. He also became the first Greek NBA All-Star.[31] In the game, he led the East with 30 points in a 192–182 loss to the West.[32] On April 3, 2017, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month

for games played in March. The award was the first of Antetokounmpo’s career and the first for a Buck since Michael Redd won the award in January 2004.[33] Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks finish an Eastern Conference-best 14–4 in March, the

franchise’s first calendar month with at least 14 victories since going 16–2 in February 1971. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in every one of the five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) in the 2016–17 regular season,

becoming only the fifth NBA player to do so after Dave Cowens, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James.[34] He also became the first player in NBA history to finish in the top 20 in the league in each of the five major categories in a regular

season.[35] As a result of his efforts, Antetokounmpo was named to the All-NBA Second Team, earning his first All-NBA honor.[36] He was also named the recipient of the NBA Most Improved Player Award for the 2016–17 season, becoming the first player in Bucks history to be named Most Improved Player.[37]

On April 15, 2017, Antetokounmpo scored a playoff career-high 28 points in a 97–83 win over the third seed Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.[38] In Game 5 of the series on April 24, Antetokounmpo set a new playoff career-high with 30 points, but could not lead the Bucks to a win as they lost 118–93 to go down 3–2 in the series.[39] The Bucks went on

to lose Game 6 three days later despite a 34-point effort from Antetokounmpo, as they bowed out of the playoffs with a 4–2 defeat.[40]

Antetokounmpo dunking against the Washington Wizards in 2018.

Antetokounmpo began the 2017–18 season on a tear, scoring 175 points over the first five games of the season, including a then career-high 44 points in a 113–110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.[41] On January 6, 2018, he recorded 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 110–103 win over the Washington Wizards. On January 15, 2018, he recorded 27 points and a

career-high 20 rebounds in a 104–95 win over the Wizards,[42] becoming the second-youngest Buck to record a 20–20 game behind Andrew Bogut.[43] Three days later, he was named a starter for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, becoming the first Buck since Marques Johnson (1979–80) to be named a starter in two straight All-Star Games.[44] On February 15, 2018, he recorded

his first triple-double of the season with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists in a 134–123 loss to the Denver Nuggets. It was his ninth career triple-double, passing Abdul-Jabbar for most in Bucks history.[45]

In Game 1 of the Bucks’ first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Antetokounmpo recorded 35 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in a 113–107 overtime loss.[46] Antetokounmpo’s game-winning tip-in in Game 4 equalised the series at two games a piece. However, the Celtics would go on to eliminate the Bucks in seven games, in spite of Antetokounmpo’s 22 points and nine rebounds in Game 7.[47]

Rising Bucks and MVP recognition (2018–present)

Starting from the 2018–19 season, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks achieved a period of sustained team success. Under new coach Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks began the season with seven consecutive victories, and went 25–10 before the New Year.[48][49] Antetkounmpo was critical to this early success, earning the Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards for

October, November and December, and later, February.[50][51][52] On March 17, Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 52 points to go with 16 rebounds in a 130–125 loss to the 76ers.[53][54] He avenged this loss in an April 4 victory where he recorded 45 points and 13 rebounds in a 128–122 win over the 76ers, helping the Bucks clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern

Conference.[55] Antetokounmpo eventually guided the Bucks to a 60–22 season and the best record in the league. He helped the Bucks advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001 after scoring 41 points in a 127–104 win in Game 4 over the Detroit Pistons for a four-game sweep.[56][57] The Bucks went on to reach the Eastern Conference Finals,

where they were defeated 4–2 by the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors, despite winning the first two games.[58] At the NBA’s end-of-season awards night, Antetokounmpo was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.[59] He joined Kareem

Abdul-Jabbar as the second Bucks player to win MVP, and became the third youngest player to win the MVP over the previous 40 seasons, behind Derrick Rose and LeBron James.[60]

Antetokounmpo began the 2019–20 season with a triple-double, recording 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a 117–111 season-opening win over the Houston Rockets on October 24, 2019.[61] On November 25, Antetokounmpo scored a season-high 50 points, along with 14 rebounds, in a 122–118 win over the Utah Jazz.[62] After a December 14 victory over the

Cleveland Cavaliers, Antetokounmpo had lead the Bucks to their 18th straight victory, 2 shy of the franchise record.[63] The

winning streak ended on December 16 with a close loss to the Dallas Mavericks, in spite of Antetokounmpo recording an efficient 48 points and 14 rebounds.[64] On December 19, Antetokounmpo made a career-high five three-pointers to lead

Milwaukee over the Western top seed, the Los Angeles Lakers, and helped the Bucks claim the NBA’s best record at 25–4. On January 23, 2020, Antetokounmpo was named an All-Star Game captain, alongside James, for the second consecutive year.[65]

During the season postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic that lasted from early March to the end of July, Antetokounmpo claimed to not have a basketball hoop to practice with.[66] He later clarified that he did have access to a gym and basketball hoop, explaining his earlier comments as a means to “get a little bit ahead of the competition.”[67]

Antetokounmpo and the Bucks resumed their campaign against the Boston Celtics on July 31, where Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to victory with 36 points and 15 rebounds.[68] Although the Bucks finished the seeding games with a 3–5 record, they set the best record in the NBA for the second consecutive year, finishing with a 56–17 record. Antetokounmpo finished the

season with an all-time record for single-season NBA Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with 31.87, as per Basketball Reference, having surpassed the previous record held by Wilt Chamberlain of 31.82.[69][70] During the playoffs, the Bucks advanced to the second round but lost 4–1 to the Miami Heat. In Game 2, the Heat’s Jimmy Butler was fouled while shooting by

Antetokounmpo as time expired, leading to Butler’s game-winning walk-off free throws.[71] Antetokounmpo missed most of Game 4 after re-injuring his right ankle which he twisted in Game 3. Milwaukee won the game, but Antetokounmpo was also out for Game 5, when the Bucks were eliminated.[72]

On September 18, 2020, Antetokunmpo won his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award. In doing so, he joined Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan as the only players to win MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.[73]

On December 15, 2020, Antetokounmpo re-signed with the Bucks, coming to terms on a 5-year, $228 million dollar extension, the largest in league history. [74]

National team career

Antetokounmpo represented Greece for the first time in July 2013 with the Greek Under-20 national team at the 2013 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship. He helped Greece to an 8–2 record and a fifth place overall finish, while averaging 8.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists across the 10 games. He finished the tournament ranked second in defensive rebounds (7.0) and seventh in blocked shots (1.4).[2]

In 2014, Antetokounmpo played for the senior men’s Greek national basketball team for the first time, helping Greece finish ninth overall in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup with a 5–1 record. He averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds across the six games, while shooting 45.8% from the field.[75]

 

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