H: 6' 9"|
W: 196 lbs
(21 Years Old)
|Agent: Alex Saratsis |
Hometown: Athens, Greece
Drafted: Pick 15 in 2013 by Bucks
One year ago, we discovered Giannis Antetokounmpo in a tiny gym in Athens, and were immediately taken aback by the significant talent this completely unknown raw prospect possessed. The son of Nigerian immigrants, Antetokounmpo (then known as Adetokunbo) was a citizenship-less 18-year old caught in the bureaucracy of Greek politics, known only to a handful of NBA scouts who were largely skeptical of the anonymous player's potential. Completely off the radar of anyone in the United States at the time, Giannis would go on to be selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, a move that was criticized harshly by some on draft night.
Taking a short trip to Jesolo with a hoard of NBA scouts (probably around 50), we were able to take in a U20 game between Croatia and Greece featuring highly touted Greek small forward Giannis Adetokunbo (name has sicne been changed to Giannis Antetokounmpo), playing in his first ever game outside of Greece after finally obtaining his passport (he in fact now has two after also receiving a Nigerian passport).
Starting at the power forward spot but regularly bringing the ball up the floor, he turned in a solid, albeit unspectacular performance, finishing with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists by our count while putting many of his strengths and weaknesses on display for those in attendance.
Acting as a facilitator for his team in the half court and making a number of impressive plays in the open floor, Adetokunbo didn't look out of place competing with players one year his senior in most cases, but his lack of experience was evident. He had a number of rebounds ripped away from him, didn't always finish strong around the basket, and airballed a 3-pointer on one occasion--but later smoothly knocked down another. Directing his teammates as Greece ran its sets, Adetokunbo has a unique feel for the game considering his age and athleticism, and is undoubtedly a special talent, but is definitely still in the early stages of his development.
All in all Giannis probably didn't impact his draft stock significantly in either direction. People who liked him probably saw what they needed to see, while those that didn't surely weren't swayed by what he showed. A fairly substantial contingent of the 50 or so NBA scouts started to file out with 6-8 minutes left in the fourth quarter, which can't be considered a great sign. The stop and start nature of the game and overall poor officiating surely didn't help matters, but Adetokunbo will need to show more in the next two days if he wants to definitively boost his stock into the top-20.
Scouting report by Jonathan Givony. Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz
Fleeing unrest in their native country of Nigeria, the Adetokunbo (editor's note: Greek authorities later changed his name to Antetokounmpo when he finally received his citizenship) family emigrated to Greece in 1992 in search of a new beginning. The couple eventually settled into the Sepolia neighborhood outside of Athens, a suburb with a considerable migrant population. Working different jobs for the past twenty-one years, they were never recognized by the Greek authorities as actual citizens, but fully intending on making the country their home. That included doing whatever they could to assimilate their four sons into Greek society, hence their decision to give them Greek names. Unlike the US, being born in Greece does not guarantee citizenship; while registering their children with the Nigerian embassy could mean deportation should they happen to be stopped by authorities
The Adetokunbos gave birth to four children in Greece, Thanasis (who stands 6-7), in July of 1992, Giannis (6-9) in December 1994, Costas (6-3) in 1997, and Alex (5-9) in 2001. Their first son, Francis (6-7), was born in 1984 and is a professional soccer player in Nigeria. None of the Adetokunbos have received Greek citizenship, only being able to attend public school thanks to their birth certificates.
Thanasis and Giannis began to play basketball casually together around 2003. As fate would have it, the two were spotted one day by Spyros Veliniatis, a coach from Filathlitikos academy who is an avid cycling enthusiast and happened to biking by their local basketball court. Veliniatis was immediately taken aback by the immense physical gifts the children displayed, and invited the two to join the academy, the only club in Athens that does not charge a membership fee to participate. Considering the family's financial background, this was fortunate.
Thanasis and Giannis enrolling in the academy coincided with the team progressing rapidly up the Greek minor league system, being promoted six times in ten years from the D regional division of Athens all the way up to A2, the second league of Greece. Filathlitikos now finds themselves on the doorstep of A1, the top league in Greece, as they are in first place with a 14-3 record more than halfway through the season.
Most of Filathlitikos's success has come thanks to the homegrown talent they developed and integrated onto their roster over the years, with head coach Takis Zivas coaching both the club's senior and U18 team since its inception 15 years ago. Many of the club's young players are the sons and daughters of immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Albania and Nigeria.
Thanks to the Adetokunbo's arrival, Greek basketball might have the most interesting prospect the country has seen in many years on their hands. Despite never having played for any of Greece's youth (U16, U18, U20) national teams in an official capacity, Giannis has drawn considerable interest as of late both in his home country and abroad, with eight NBA teams already having traveled to see him. An invitation to the senior national team is reportedly in the works for this summer, if his citizenship issues can be resolved of course.
After watching a considerable amount of film from his play in the second division and U18 league, we decided to take a trip out to Athens ourselves to see what all the fuss was about. It turned out to be very valuable use of our time.
Adetokunbo stands out first and foremost thanks to the tremendous physical profile he brings to the table, reminding somewhat of a Nicolas Batum or Thabo Sefolosha on first glance. He has great size at 6-9, 196 pounds, to go along with a developed upper body and an overall terrific frame that should fill out considerably in time. His wingspan has reportedly been measured at 7-3, but perhaps most interesting is the size of his hands, as he's able to palm the ball like a grapefruit which helps him out considerably as a passer, ball-handler and finisher.