Danny Ainge Explains Why The Boston Celtics Passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo
Back in 2013, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was relatively unknown. Today, he’s the NBA’s reigning MVP and the highest-paid player in the league. Antetokounmpo was drafted with the 15th overall pick in 2013. The Boston Celtics picked 13th. Danny Ainge, Boston’s President of Basketball Operations, explained why they went another route on draft day seven years ago.
Giannis Antetokounmpo staying in Milwaukee
After months of keeping the NBA world on its toes, Giannis Antetokounmpo made a very important announcement Tuesday. A week before the 2020-2021 NBA season tips off, Antetokounmpo announced he will not be entering free agency after this season. He will remain a member of the Milwaukee Bucks for an additional five years.
The reigning MVP of the NBA signed a supermax extension with the Bucks worth $228 million over five years. The Greek Freak has been the league MVP for the past two seasons and made the announcement on Twitter, saying, “This is my home, this is my city. I’m blessed to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 5 years. Let’s make these years count. The show goes on, let’s get it.”
This past season, Antetokounmpo averaged 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. He put up those monster numbers despite playing the second-lowest amount of minutes per game (30.4) in his seven-year career. He helped guide the Bucks to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The 2013 NBA draft wasn’t loaded with stars
The No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft turned out to be one of the biggest NBA busts in history. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 power forward out of UNLV. He lasted four years in the league and averaged 4.4 points per game.
Victor Oladipo (No. 2) and C.J. McCollum (No. 10) are the two biggest names in the top 10. Giannis Antetokounmpo was a skinny and raw player from Greece and was considered a project. He wasn’t on the radar of a whole lot of teams picking in the upper half of the draft.
The Milwaukee Bucks decided to pull the trigger on the young kid who would later turn out to become the Greek Freak. Milwaukee selected him with the 15th overall pick. He made his first of his four straight NBA All-Star appearances during the 2016-17 season when he averaged 22.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Danny Ainge reveals why the Celtics passed on the Greek Freak
Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics had the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. When it was time for them to pick, Giannis Antetokounmpo was still sitting there undrafted. Ainge knew about the kid from Greece but decided to pick another versatile big man in Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga. Olynyk has had a decent NBA career, but he’s not even close to being in the same class as Antetokounmpo.
Last year, Ainge was asked when he saw in Antetokounmpo when he went to Greece to scout him in 2013. “We all liked him,” Ainge said, according to NESN. “All of us had seen him. I think I saw him in maybe January, but by the time that he was drafted that same year, he was I think two or three inches taller and maybe 10 or 15 pounds heavier. And he was even bigger the year after Milwaukee drafted him. But he was just a really skinny kid that had no outside game, and he looked like a kid that just needed a long time to develop.
“I think the amazing thing with him was how quickly he developed, and part of that was his height and strength and how much bigger he got so fast. I think that enabled him to be good right away in the NBA. In his rookie year and his second year, you could see, wow, this kid is going to be really, really good.”