These 14 NBA Players Entered The League Before Giannis Antetokounmpo

Published on 02/25/2020
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Known as the “Greek Freak,” Giannis smashed the NBA for the most recent seasons and was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award in the 2018-2019 season. When he drafted in 2013 from Greece, it was not set in stone that he would become the success he is today. In reality, Giannis was drafted at pick number 15, which isn’t even considered a lottery pick. The fact that he went on to be such a legendary player is truly remarkable, and what’s even more interesting is how the NBA scouts drafted 14 players before him. Try not to let your jaw drop as you read these names, some of which have a combined 2 All-Star game appearances.

These 14 NBA Players Entered The League Before Giannis Antetokounmpo

These 14 NBA Players Entered The League Before Giannis Antetokounmpo

Anthony Bennett – Cleveland Cavaliers

At the time, the scouts described the 6 ft 8 in, power forward, Bennet, by saying he has a good scoring record but a horrible defensive reputation and resembles a poor man’s rendition of Dereck Williams. They also said they would have a hard time passing him after the 10th pick but they were concerned for his potential in the top 5.

Anthony Bennett – Cleveland Cavaliers

Anthony Bennett – Cleveland Cavaliers

Bennet Today

In sports history, Bennett is seen as one of the biggest drafts failures. He played a few bad seasons in Cleveland before he was sent to Minnesota as part of the Kevin Love Trade. Afterward, he moved around the D-League as well as Europe. Overall he averaged 3.3 points per game and 3.1 rebounds. He has 0 All-star games, 0 All-NBA team, and 0 Championships.

Bennett Today

Bennett Today

Victor Oladipo – Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo wasn’t known for his good offensive strategy, but instead his energy. At the time, scouts said he had the potential to be the best perimeter in the NBA, but it would be unlikely that he would hit the NBA-three-ball in his early years. They added, that if he could do this then he would be a fantastic player.

Victor Oladipo – Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo – Orlando Magic

Oladipo Today

Oladipo managed to achieve a strong NBA career and in the last two seasons, he has changed his game entirely from being an untidy defender to an all-around baller, after making two consecutive All-Star games. Ever since Paul George left, Oladipo has fortified the Pacers franchise. He has 2 All-Star Games, 1 ALL-NBA Teams, and 0 Championships.

Oladipo Today

Oladipo Today

Otto Porter – Washington Wizards

Otto Porter is a 6 ft 8 player with a 7’1″ wingspan and enough size to be small forward in the NBA. He has a foundation of athletism, a talent for scoring baskets, and an impressive shooting range. Scouts said he “plays within himself” and is a very generous passer.

Otto Porter – Washington Wizards

Otto Porter – Washington Wizards

Porter Today

Up till now, Porter Jr. has had one good NBA season and fortunately, it happened during a contract year. During the 2016-2017 season, he averaged 14.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. After this, Porter scored himself a contract with Washington. Unfortunately, this was short-lived and they sent him off to Chicago soon afterward. He as an overall average of 11 points and 5 rebounds per game.

Porter Today

Porter Today

Cody Zeller – Charlotte Bobcats

Cody Zeller had a great combine and was appreciated overall for his athleticism. He has great size and used this to his advantage in college. At the time, scouts said he was the biggest scorer in the draft and was similar to Brook Lopez in terms of his average rebounding.

Zeller Today

Zeller Today

Zeller Today

Zeller’s entire NBA career was spent playing with the Bobcats/Hornets franchise and has been pretty successful there with an average of 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Zeller is the only chance the Hornets have in competing for the playoffs.

Zeller Today

Zeller Today

Alex Len – Phoenix Suns

Alex Len was said to be just another large man who has potential. Scouts observed how much he improved since his freshman year at Maryland, in terms of his scoring and defense. While he isn’t necessarily known for his defensive rebounding talent, he is a great offensive rebounder. Some say that he was held back due to Maryland’s guards.

Alex Len – Phoenix Suns

Alex Len – Phoenix Suns

Alex Len Today

Alex Len had many difficulties in his career because of injuries that interfered with game time. After he was healed, he began to flourish. At the height of his career averaged just 11.1 points per game, but he has averaged 6 rebounds per game.

Alex Len Today

Alex Len Today

Nerlens Noel – New Orleans Pelicans

Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel was the closest to the overall Number 1 pick in the draft. Even though he was out most of the season due to a tear to his ACL. Overall, he was named one of the best shock blockers in the NCAA, almost as good at last year’s Anthony Davis.

Nerlens Noel – New Orleans Pelicans

Nerlens Noel – New Orleans Pelicans

Nerlens Noel Today

Nerlens Noel’s career was put on pause due to injuries. He was out of the first season and part of the third season because of a knee injury. When he returned, he complained about his position on the team and was then traded to the Mavericks. Today he plays with Oklahoma City Thunder and averages 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds.

Nerlens Noel Today

Nerlens Noel Today

Ben McLemore – Sacramento Kings

On a bad day, Ben McLemore is still a great rotational “3 and D” player, which is very valuable for a team. McLemore is just 20 years old and it’s important to remember that he hasn’t come in contact with advanced offenses or an intense training schedule and proper diet. However, over time he will get used to this and emit more confidence.

Ben McLemore – Sacramento Kings

Ben McLemore – Sacramento Kings

Ben McLemore Today

Throughout his 7 year career, he has averaged 8.8 points per game. Eager fans and teammates anxiously await each year for him to flourish, especially after the 2014-2015 season, where he averaged 12.1 points. Sadly, that was the only season he scored double digits.

Ben McLemore Today

Ben McLemore Today

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Nicknamed KCP, Kentavious has one of the best shooting averages and skill in the draft. He is extremely athletic and is a great defender in terms of his stats and scouts approval. However, he could work on his handle especially for being a 2 ft guard.

Kentavious Caldwell Pope

Kentavious Caldwell Pope

Kentavious Today

KCP has shown to be a tough and consistent player. He surely isn’t the best scorer in the league, but he is consistent. Ever since his rookie year, he has averaged double digits every game, and till now has played 74 games.

Kentavious Today

Kentavious Today

Trey Burke – Minnesota Timberwolves

Burke has all you could want in a player, aside from his height. He is one of the fastest players in the country with his long arms, speedy feet, and impeccable speed. Also, he has a 6’5” wingspan, which helps him play bigger than his actual size.

Trey Burke – Minnesota Timberwolves

Trey Burke – Minnesota Timberwolves

Trey Burke- Today

Trey Burke began his career strong with 12.8 points averaged per game, 5.7 assists, and 3 rebounds. In his second season, he had the same averages and ever since he’s moved around and spent some time with the Knicks D-League team.

Trey Burke Today

Trey Burke Today

CJ McCollum – Portland Trailblazers

Overall, McCollum 6 ft 3 in, was an excellent prospect says Bullets Forever. Scouts say he has potential for scoring in the pick and roll and seems like he can handle playing with other ball handlers on the team.

CJ McCollum – Portland Trailblazers

CJ McCollum – Portland Trailblazers

CJ McCollum Today

When he first started in the NBA he had difficulty getting started, but after his third season, he began averaging 20 points per game. That in combination with 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game, makes him a great partner to Dame Lillard from Portland. The two together make the Western Conference’s most unstoppable power duo.

CJ McCollum Today

CJ McCollum Today

Michael Carter-Williams – Philadelphia 76ers

Michael Carer- Williams can be best compared to Rajon Rondo, with the size of Jason Kidd. We’re not quite sure if Carter-Williams will end up being an NBA champion like Rondo and Kidd, but there is potential. However, he will most likely be like Shaun Livingston, minus the terrible knee injury.

Michael Carter Williams

Michael Carter Williams

Michael Carter-Williams Today

In his initial season, MCW was the first player drafted to the NBA, apart from the top 10, that was named rookie of the year since Mark Jackson back in 1987. There was hope that he would revamp the 76ers, unfortunately, this didn’t quite happen. Three averages taken from his rookie season are his career heights today and today he is on his 6th team in seven seasons.

Michael Carter Williams Today

Michael Carter Williams Today

Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder

Scouts weren’t too excited about Adams and at the time said he was nice but overall looked like a boring prospect. He was good at blocking shots but wasn’t very successful scoring baskets. There was a possibility he would be in the top ten but no team wanted to make the first move.

Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder

Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder

Steven Adams Today

Today, the big-bearded man, known as Kiwi has had a stable NBA career and for many years playing alongside Russell Westbrook. Today he gets the spotlight on him, and last season he had great stats including his points, rebounds, steals, and assists. Currently, he is averaging 9.7 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. Last month he even scored his first 3 pointers so it looks like big things are coming for him!

Steven Adams Today

Steven Adams Today

Kelly Olynyk – Dallas Mavericks

With the right position and face-pace routine, Kelly is a big man who could prove to be a strong third or fourth big off an NBA bench. Though he won’t transform into Spencer Hawes by looking at his minutes.

Kelly Olynyk – Dallas Mavericks

Kelly Olynyk – Dallas Mavericks

Kelly Olynyk Today

While we can spend time talking about Olynyk’s career stats with an average of 9.9 points per game, but his best characteristic is being a big man that irritates others. He also gave the Golden State Warriors their title when he dislocated Kevin Love’s shoulder at the 2015 Eastern Conference finals. Olynyk was then suspended.

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk Today

Shabazz Muhammad – Utah Jazz

Muhammad could be a great scorer in the NBA but as of now he has too many holes in his games and he doesn’t have what it takes. Many fans who have heard about his so-called performance would be surprised to see him in a game.

Shabazz Muhammad – Utah Jazz

Shabazz Muhammad – Utah Jazz

Shabazz Muhammad Today

While Muhammad has quite a lot of physical ability and innate talent, he never really made it in the NBA. He spent 5 seasons in the NBA and currently plays for China. Within 5 seasons he averaged 9 points and 2.8 points per game.

 Shabazz Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad

Origin

Born on December 6, 1994, Giannis was born in Athens, Greece to Veronica and Charles Antetokounmpo. They have a Greek-Nigerian ethnic background. With four brothers, two of them are also basketball players.

Origin

Origin

The Move

Just three years before he was born, Giannis’ parents moved from Lagos, Nigeria. Charles, his father, was a former Nigerian association football player. Veronica, his mother, is a former high jumper. His dad passed away at age 54 back in 2017.

The Move

The Move

Full Citizenship

While Giannis was born in Sepolia, Athens and learned in Greek school, he and all his brothers didn’t automatically qualify to get full Greek citizenship. For 18 years, he had no country. That was, until May 2013, when he officially became a Greek citizen.

Full Citizenship

Full Citizenship

Beginning To Play

In 2007, Giannis took to basketball. Within two years, he was playing competitively for the youth squad of Filathlitikos. In 2011, he joined the senior men’s team of Filathlitikos and played with them in a semi-pro league, Greece’s third-tire.

Beginning To Play

Beginning To Play

Turning Pro

In the 2012-2013 season, Giannis became a pro with Filathlitikos. He played in Greece’s second-tire basketball, the Greek A2 League. During this season, he averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.0 block over the course of 26 games. As a treat for the fan, he was selected as a special participant in the 2013 Greek League All-Star Game. In fact, he recorded a season-high of 23 points.

Turning Pro

Turning Pro

Four-Year Contract

While he signed a four-year contract with the Spanish club, CAI Zaragoza in December 2012, he made himself eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft. As we know, he was selected 15th  overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. He signed a rookie scale contract in July 2013.

Four Year Contract

Four Year Contract

Debut

In July 2013, Giannis made his debut for the national team at the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship. He secured a fifth-place finish for Greece. Just one year later, he made it to the senior team at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Debut

Debut

Playing For The Bucks

In his rookie season, Giannis played in 77 games for the Bucks, averaging 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 24.6 minutes per contest. He was then named the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie second team. This was a first since Brandon Jennings in 2009-10 and overall 12th player in history!

Playing For The Bucks

Playing For The Bucks

Blocks

Giannis’ total of 61 blocks was the highest by a rookie during that season and 7th highest by a Bucks rookie in history. He was later selected to be a part of the Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Weekend in New Orleans.

Blocks

Blocks

Career-High

In February 2015, Giannis recorded his career-high 27 points and 15 rebounds in a loss to Houston Rockets. During that week, his performance earned him the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the first time in his career.

Career High

Career High

Ending The Season

However, that was only the beginning for Giannis. In March 2015, in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, he improved his scoring to a career-high of 29 points on 11 of 16 shooting. The whole season, he averaged with 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.0 block in 31.4 minutes per contest.

Ending The Season

Ending The Season

Team Africa

In August 2015, Giannis was part of Team Africa in an NBA Exhibition against Team World. It was played at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa. Team Africa consisted of NBA players and alumni that were either born or had parents from Africa. Team Africa lost the game by a score of 97-101, with Giannis scoring 22 points.

Team Africa

Team Africa

Extended Contract

In October 2015, the Bucks exercised their 4th-year team options on Giannis’ rookie scale contract. Meaning that they extended it by another year. In those two years with the Bucks, he had played in 158 games and averaged 9.8 points with 5.6 rebounds, making him the youngest Bucks in history to gain over 1,000 points.

Extended Contract

Extended Contract

First Loss

Giannis had a better start to the 2015 season and averaged 16 points in the first 20 games. He also recorded a new career-high of 33 points for a losing cause against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He recorded almost triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. This caused the Warriors’ first loss of the season, ending the game with a 108-95 score.

First Loss

First Loss

Triple-Double

In February 2016, he recorded his first-ever career triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 108-101 win against the Los Angeles Lakers. At just 21 years old, Giannis became the youngest Buck to ever record a triple-double. The Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant described him as having ‘unbelievable’ talent.

Triple Double

Triple Double

First Player

On April 1, 2016, Giannis recorded his fifth triple-double and became the first Bucks player to record with four or more triple-doubles in a single season. Just two days later, he scored a new career-high 34 points in a 102-98 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

First Player

First Player

Another Contract

At the beginning of the 2016 season, Giannis signed a four-year $100 million contract extension with the Bucks. In fact, he began the season with a game-high of 31 points in a 107-96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

Another Contract

Another Contract

High Praise

Jason Kidd, the Bucks’ coach, had a lot of praise for Giannis, who was often matched up against LeBron James in the game against Cleveland Cavaliers. He ended up tied with a career-high of 34 points along with 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and two blocks in a 118 to 101 win. On December 5th, Giannis was named ‘Eastern Conference Player of the Week’.

High Praise

High Praise

Explosive Player

In January 2017, Giannis lived up to his tag of being one of the NBA’s most explosive players when he recorded 27 points with 13 rebounds. On top of that, he made a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to give the Bucks a 105-104 victory against the New York Knicks.

Explosive Player

Explosive Player

Longest Streak

When Giannis scored 25 points in the return match against the Knicks in January, he had at least 20 points to his name in 14 consecutive games, matching the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd in 2006.

Longest Streak

Longest Streak

A Starter

Later in January, he was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. In his fourth NBA season, he averaged 23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.8 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game. He was leading the Bucks in every category.

A Starter

A Starter

Youngest Player

At just 22 years old, Giannis became the youngest player in history to start in an All-Star Game and also the first Greek NBA All-Star. He led the East game with 30 points in a 182-192 loss to West.

Youngest Player

Youngest Player

Player of the Month

Of course, this wasn’t the end for Giannis. In April 2017, he was named the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for March. This was the first award of his career and the first of a Buck since Michael Redd won the same award in 2004. In fact, Giannis is one of the four Bucks to ever win this award.

 

Player Of The Month

Player Of The Month

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Giannis secured at least the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with an 89-79 win against the Charlotte Hornets. He also picked up his third triple-double of the season with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He equaled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career eight triple-doubles.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Leading the Franchise

By the end of 2016-17 regular season, Giannis became the fifth-ever NBA player to lead the franchise in every one of the major statistical categories. This includes points, rebound, assists, blocks, and steals.

Leading The Franchise

Leading The Franchise

Top Five

Giannis finished the league in the top five in each of the five main categories in a regular season. On top of that, he was named to the All-NBA Second Team, earning his very first All-NBA honor. He was also named the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the season and also the first for the Bucks.

Top Five

Top Five

Eastern Conference Player

In October, the Giannis was playing his third match of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers and recorded his career-high 44 points in a 113-110 win. In the fourth quarter, he scored 17 points, including a dunk that put the Bucks ahead with 11 seconds to go. They won 111-110. He was then named the Eastern Conference Player for the week.

Eastern Conference Player

Eastern Conference Player

Best Start

In the first half of the 2017 season, Giannis had a lot of high to his name. His 147 points in the first four games are the most in team history. The 175 points in five games are also the best start in NBA history. On top of that, he grabbed a career-high of 17 rebounds against Dallas Mavericks and by recording 40 points against the Celtics, he registered his third 40+ of the season.

Best Start

Best Start

Second Season

In January 2018, Giannis was named a starter for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game for the second season in a row. Earlier that month, he scored 27 points and a career-high of 20 rebounds in a 104-95 win against the Wizards. He became the youngest Bucks to record a 20-20 game behind Andrew Bogut.

Second Season

Second Season

Euroscar European Player of the Year

In March 2019, Giannis was named the ‘Euroscar European Player of the Year’ for 2018. This made him the second Greek player to ever receive this honor since Nick  Gallis in 1987. He also beat Luka Doncic in the voting for the European basketball Oscar.

Euroscar European Player Of The Year

Euroscar European Player Of The Year

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