There was a conventional wisdom before this year's draft which held that the team selecting 18-year-old Greek phenom Giannis Adetokunbo was in for a long slog that he would need another year and maybe two in the European leagues before coming to the NBA -- and that even then he'd still be a very raw prospect. That was never going to be the case though. Before the draft Adetokunbo made clear that if he were selected he would be in the NBA this season. The Bucks with the 15th pick were on board with that. "That was a part of the agreement in drafting him was that he wanted to come over immediately" Bucks general manager John Hammond told SN. "A player you don't really have that option to say 'Go to Europe' if he doesn't agree. So in drafting him we knew that he was going to be with us. That did not discourage us that he was thinking that way. We thought 'Hey look we will have him we will have our hands on him. We can develop him the way we see fit.'" Adetokunbo could rank as the most fascinating player coming into the league this year the son of Nigerian migrants who settled in Greece and watched their 6-9 son grab the attention of the hoops world with just about NBA every team sending someone to Athens to watch Adetokunbo personally. Nevermind that Adetokunbo averaged 9.5 points and 5.0 rebounds for Filathlitikos of Greece's second division -- for a comparison of the level of play in that league think Division II college basketball. But the Bucks saw enough skill from Adetokunbo -- his natural ease as a ballhandler and a passer his instincts for the game -- to consider him a worthy choice. "For us we were sitting there in the middle of the draft at 15 and we took the opportunity to say it is a not a risky pick. We knew there was some risk but that's true with anybody in the mid-to-late first round" Hammond said. "On the other side we focused on the potentially extremely high reward with Giannis. Could he be one of those guys who you look at and say -- I don't want to put unfair pressure on a young player like this -- but he is the kind of guy you could look at in a few years and say 'My gosh he was the 15th pick and he can be an All-Star he is an All-Star'? I think he has those kinds of tools and those abilities to do that someday." For now the Bucks have to figure out how to nudge Adetokunbo in that direction which has proven to be a tricky act for many teams selecting players out of Europe whether they're stars like Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro or projects like Bismack Biyombo and Alexis Ajinca. Hammond said that the Bucks know how they will approach breaking in Adetokunbo but that they're prepared to be flexible should Adetokunbo earn a bigger role ahead of schedule. "If we're saying today before training camp starts I think our plan today is to expose him but not overexpose him" Hammond said. "Get him on the floor if there are minutes available for him at any time. I know Larry (Drew) is very aware of that that if there are minutes that can be stolen for him at different points in the game a matchup or game situation that can be fitting for him get him on the floor expose him let him get some minutes and get a feel for the NBA game. But not overexpose him -- don't put him in a position where he is going to start questioning his confidence."
Adetokunbo's impact may not be immediate, but Bucks' influence on him will be
Sporting News | Sep 23