Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most unlikely success stories in the history of the NBA. The little-known prospect out of Greece started as a seldom-used player who was drafted in the middle of the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks and quickly rose in stature until he became the two-time MVP that we know today. The Bucks recently awarded their superstar with a supermax deal that many see as a win for both sides. To build a champion around him, however, the team might need to get creative.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s amazing journey
Giannis Antetokounmpo has a story befitting of Hollywood on and off the court. He grew up as the son of African immigrants in a Greek city. The son of former athletes in their own right, Giannis, along with brothers Thanasis and Kostas Antetokounmpo, had to make do with what they had as they grew up in an impoverished community with little chance of upward mobility. Luckily for them, however, there was basketball to help them out.
Giannis started playing professionally as a teenager and getting notice overseas. However, without much hype, he slipped to the 15th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, making the 14 teams who passed him over regret their oversight. Although it took some time, Giannis showed his place in the NBA. From a mid-rotation guy as a rookie to a promising sophomore season, many thought he could be the steal of the draft.
The next leap he took, however, showed just how underestimated he was. Giannis Antetokounmpo might not shoot with the other superstars, but his center size with guard-like skills make him a terror on offense and defense. Just 26 years old, he’s already a four-time All-Star and All-NBA player, three-time All-Defensive player, one-time Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time MVP.
The Bucks rewarded this with a massive contract too.
From rags to riches
The reigning MVP went from Greece’s poverty to the high life, scoring a massive five-year supermax contract extension after years of speculation that his days in Milwaukee were numbered. The deal is worth a record $228.2 million, but for a player who some believe could be the one that dethrones LeBron James, this was worth it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo revealed his joy in a written statement that expressed his gratitude for the Bucks organization and let the city know that he was there to stay.
“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,” according to the NY Post.
It was a no-brainer for both sides. The Bucks keep their superstar, and Giannis Antetokounmpo gets paid. However, if he wants to get that elusive ring, the current team may be hard to build into a contender.
Can the Milwaukee Bucks win the NBA championship?
The Milwaukee Bucks have been the best regular-season team for two straight years now, but their struggles in the playoffs have been noted. With hopes of improvement, the team swung for the fences by acquiring Jrue Holiday in the offseason to solidify their depth. Aside from Giannis Antetokounmpo’s massive deal, the team is paying Khris Middleton a max contract, according to Spotrak, and Jrue Holiday is entering the penultimate year of his expensive contract.
For a team that has struggled to make it all the way, however, they might need to do some creative accounting and swing for the fences. With a two-headed dragon on both Los Angeles teams and the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers potentially getting better, Antetokounmpo’s deal was the obvious one, but it now requires the Bucks to do some thinking.
If the Bucks stagnate this season, after trading so much draft capital in the Jrue Holiday trade, they’ll be stuck without an obvious way to improve. So far, the Bucks have seen the weaknesses of the team’s bench on display. Will Milwaukee be able to take what it has now to give Antetokounmpo the ring he’s seeking?
Time will tell what Giannis adds to his resume when all is said and done, but for a ring to be in the works, it might mean that a shakeup is near.