Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo could get playing time as a teenage rookie

Bucks' long-term prospect Antetokounmpo could get significant playing time as a teenage rookie

7/11/13 in NBA   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

18-year-old Greek sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo, known by many as "The Greek Freak," was perhaps the most interesting prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. The youngster stands at 6'9'', but has the ball handling ability, floor vision, and jump shot of a guard. His frame and skill set is reminiscent of a young Kevin Durant - frontcourt size with backcourt skills, ability to stretch the floor with the three-point shot, and skinny as a toothpick.

The difference between Antetokounmpo and a 19-year-old Durant coming out of the University of Texas, however, is that Antetokounmpo has been playing against extremely weak competition over in Greece. Durant dominated against some of the best young players during his one year at Texas, and it was obvious that he was NBA ready - Antetokounmpo, despite his unique skill set, is a question mark in that regard.
Blog Photo - Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo could get playing time as a teenage rookie
After being drafted 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, however, Antetokounmpo has adamantly stated that he wants to come over to the NBA immediately, rather than be stashed overseas as many raw foreign prospects are. Antetokounmpo is moving his family to Milwaukee this summer. The Bucks would be wise to find a way for their unpolished teenager to work on his game during the season, whether it be by getting minutes in the NBA or being sent down to the D-League.

Antetokounmpo seems like an ideal candidate to play in the D-League, where he could get heavy minutes and develop his game against some solid competition, but the Bucks' current roster makeup may call for him to spend the season in Milwaukee. With Luc Richard Mbah a Moute being traded to the Sacramento Kings and Mike Dunleavy signing with the Chicago Bulls, Antetokounmpo is currently the only true small forward on the Bucks' roster.

The Bucks, however, are deep at both shooting guard and small forward. They could potentially roll with a small, athletic lineup by sliding shooting guard O.J. Mayo down to small forward. Head coach Larry Drew could also opt for a big lineup and use power forward Ersan Ilyasova at small forward.

Even so, the way the roster looks at the moment, Antetokounmpo has a real shot at seeing some minutes as the team's only natural fit at small forward. It may take a few months for him to earn a noteworthy amount of playing time, as there are sure to be some growing pains, but the young Greek international could very well earn some significant minutes by the end of the season.

Antetokounmpo is not participating in the NBA Summer League, but rather in the European under-20 championship. In his most recent contest against Germany, Antetokounmpo racked up 20 points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks. He'll look to bring that same sort of all-around contribution to the NBA some time in the future.

It's certainly worth noting that Bucks director of player personnel Dave Babcock recently said that "in two or three years [Antetokounmpo] could easily be one of the best two or three players in this draft," which suggests that the team may be planning to slow track Antetokounmpo to a siginificant role. Considering the Bucks' current roster and Antetokounmpo's dominance overseas, however, he may end up being a contributor earlier than expected.
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