The NBA relies on superstars like Lebron James and Kevin Durant to sustain popularity and captivate fans.
Neither of these players are going anywhere any time soon, but for a long time there did not seem to be a player who could hold the torch in the coming years as they grew older.
Antetokounmpo, also known as the “Greek Freak”, has seemingly endless potential and is getting better every year.
At only 22 years old he has a long career ahead of him and the league has to be excited that he is proving to be such a dominant force.
Antetokounmpo has shown consistent improvement over the first four years of his career. He entered the league in 2013 and every season since he has increased his total for points, assists, and rebounds every year.
In 2013-14 he averaged 6.8 points, 1.9 assists, and 4.4 rebounds. In 2014-15 he averaged 12.7 points, 2.6 assists, and 6.7 rebounds. In 2015-16 he averaged 16.9 points, 4.3 assists, and 7.7 rebounds.
In 2016-17 he averaged 22.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 8.8 rebounds. This season he is the first player to average 35 points, 5 assists, and 10 rebounds through the first five games.
This is remarkable improvement from year to year and highlights his ability to develop new skills on the court and become a better player. His numbers may plateau eventually, but Antetokounmpo is setting himself up for an incredible career.
Along with his statistical success, Antetokounmpo also passes the eye test. He stands at 6’11”, has a wingspan of 7′, and always stands out as the most athletic and physically dominating player on the floor.
Last season, Antetokounmpo began to make rest of the NBA believe he was the next big thing after some signature moments and postseason appearances. Last season in a January game against the New York Knicks, Antetokounmpo hit his first career buzzer beater with a long step-back jumper just as time expired.
This shot was a message to the rest of the NBA that Giannis Antetokounmpo was for real. Despite not advancing past the first round in the playoffs yet Antetokounmpo has exceeded expectations by even getting his team into the playoffs on three different occasions.
The NBA has always needed a leading man. This trend started with Michael Jordan in the 1990’s, continued with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’neal in the 2000’s, and now Lebron James in this decade.
These superstars have expanded the league’s popularity to an unimaginable level in just a few decades. This is why the NBA needs Giannis Antetokounmpo. He may not be the next Michael Jordan or Lebron James, but he is a talented enough player to be the face of the league.
As long as he continues to improve and make the right decisions the Greek Freak will be running the show in the next five years.
The NBA needs it’s stars to create captivating story lines year after year and the next big star is Giannis Antetokuonmpo.