Antetokounmpo didn’t expect to be leading a franchise when he got drafted, but that’s all changed now
It’s common now to see criticism thrown against the many teams who passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2013 NBA Draft. In hindsight, his selection at No. 15 seems like a major oversight by the NBA to not see the potential he possessed. However, that’s why hindsight is 20/20, because very few people saw Antetokounmpo becoming what he is now. Not even the Bucks knew what they had in him.
Antetokounmpo is the star of a franchise and future face of the NBA. He was drafted to be a project player that might one day turn into a capable defender thanks to his length. Things change quickly, and even Antetokounmpo acknowledged to Yahoo Sports that he wasn’t ready to lead a franchise when he was drafted.
“For me, it’s like throwing a baby to the water and telling him to swim. You got to swim, because if you don’t swim, you’re not going to survive,” Antetokounmpo told Yahoo Sports. “That’s what happened to me. I wasn’t right away ready to be the face of a franchise, but I knew if I worked hard and listened to my coaching staff and believed in myself, one day it might happen. It is happening. I’m loving it. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. I’m just having fun.”
Some players are drafted with the intention of leading from the start. Antetokounmpo just took more time. Now, he’s leading the entire NBA in votes for the All-Star Game. His path to superstardom has been filled with expectations that he’s cleared at every turn. As he continues to climb it feels like there is nothing he can’t accomplish.
At 23 years old, Giannis is already setting himself up not to just be a face of the NBA, but the face of the NBA’s international movement. As more international players make their marks on the league it could be Giannis that represents them. The international success story that reaches the highest heights of the NBA. He just has to keep meeting the expectations set for him. Considering his career up to this point, that isn’t impossible.