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Name: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Club: Filathlitikos B.C. (Greece)
Position: Small forward
Stats: 6’9″, 195 lbs.
Antetokounmpo, the son of Nigerian immigrants, played his first season of pro ball last year with Filathlitikos B.C. in Greece’s second-tier A2 Basketball League, where he averaged 9.5 points and 5 rebounds per game, shot 46.4% from the floor, and made the All-Star team. His older brother and teammate, Thanasis, had also originally declared for the Draft but withdrew earlier this week. According to reports, Giannis’s agents are trying to convince NBA teams that he’s a point guard, but his 6’9″ height and the fact that he averaged just 1.4 assists in 2012-13 suggest otherwise. League scouts see him as a point forward, although he’ll have to bulk up to guard NBA forwards.
Antetokounmpo has been climbing the draft boards recently, thanks to his strong play towards the end of the season, but there are still question marks because of the low level of competition he’s faced in Greece. In December, he signed a contract to play with Spanish club Basket Zaragoza 2002 through the 2016-17 season and, although his buyout is affordable for any NBA team, he likely won’t be in the league in 2013-14. Despite these concerns, the talent is there, and the consensus is that Antetokounmpo will be a quality player a few years down the road. Antetokounmpo could be the second coming of Lamar Odom, or a complete bust all together- No one really seems to know.
The odds of the Celtics drafting him next week now rest partly on the outcome of the ongoing talks with the Clippers, since the 18-year-old will be much more enticing to rebuilding teams than to anybody looking to win right away. He’s probably much more appealing with the 25th pick (currently owned by the Clippers), than the Celtics own first rounder, 16. If the Celtics go into fire sale mode, they could decide to take Antetokounmpo, stash him in Spain for one or two seasons and bring him into the fold when he’s more NBA-ready.