Sunday, October 12, 2014

Corey Rockafeler NBA RAW's 2014 Rising star spotlight-The Greek Freak-Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Albert Einstein once said, " imagination is more important than knowledge." So picture a category- defying NBA player with such ethereal skills  he can single-handedly change the way the game is played on both sides of the ball. Before you can say "holy hyperbole," hear me out. At nearly 7-feet tall with a 7-5 wingspan,  this phenom sports a handle like Magic, has vision like J. Kidd, defensive disruptive skills like  KG, and can finish in transition like Vince. His nom de guerre is so cool, my six year old calls it out during his games.  Second year, Milwaukee Buck phenom, Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka "The Greek Freak" is a sort of a video game creation come to life. With a Quetzalcoatlus type wingspan, gigantic hands, tremendous length , and jaw-dropping athleticism, Antetokounmpo is the NBA's latest match-up nightmare.

What makes Giannis so unique is his elite skills on both sides of the ball. Sure we have the newest NBA prodigies :Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and  Kawhi Leonard of the  San Antonio Spurs, but none match the totality Giannis's skill set. On the offensive side of the ball, he sports a point guard's handle with an innate ability to change speeds and directions . He can create off the bounce, make plays for his teammates, post -up, face up and blow by opposing bigs, and finish strong at the rim .In transition, watching him get out  and fill the lanes with  those gazelle-like strides is a thing of beauty. If that is not enough, he is also sporting a  new Magic Johnson baby hook across the lane.

In addition, his hoops IQ belies his abbreviated NBA tenure and tender age-19. He has a preternatural feel for the game. The way he moves off the ball, slashing, cutting, curling to the basket, perpetually moving makes him unguardable.  Giannis  is as fundamentally sound as you will ever see in someone so young. You Tube has become his personal highlight reel. See him in last nights preseason game against the Chicago Bulls. He blocked Taj Gibson's shot and then sprinted down the court on the same play for a thunderous  dunk. This past summer in August, with Greece playing Turkey, Giannis covered 72 feet in two dribbles before slamming it home.

Defensively, he has the ability to disrupt a game the way few players can.  He can be a shut-down wing defender and a true rim-protecting big. Last year you would see him flying in from the weak side-  the way a young Amare Stoudemire did- to smack away a shot. In a point guard-driven, pick-and-roll league, Giannis can also chase shooters off the 3-point line, and  hedge and recover on picks, Giannis also causes total chaos in the  passing lanes and forays to the rim with his massive wing span and length.  Last year the Bucks gave up nearly 7 points less with Giannis on the court. He also held opposing bigs to a below league average 14.2 PER.

Although Giannis  put up modest numbers last year in 77 games for the woeful Bucks playing only 24 minutes: 6.8 points, 1.9 dimes, 4.4 boards, one could see the glimpses of this game-changing talent.

With new coach Jason Kidd as the guiding force, expect to see some very creative and imaginative offensive experiments. Kidd already has Giannis playing point forward .The one glaring weakness in Giannis' game is his perimeter shot. Once he gets that down, he will become a perennial all-star. Giannis Antetokounmpo  has injected some much needed hope into one of the NBA's worst run franchises . With the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, stud small forward, Jabari Parker now on board, things may shine a bit brighter in Buck town. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls the Giannis Antetokounmpo show is not to be missed.  You are about to bear witness to the next superstar in the NBA.

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