A year ago, Giannis Antetokounmpo was a relatively unknown, raw basketball talent struggling with his family to get by in Greece. He was preparing for the NBA draft, hoping that he would have a chance to come to America and build a life and career for himself. To say the past season was a whirlwind experience for the Greek teenager would be an understatement. Not expected to play much, Antetokounmpo appeared in 77 games for the Bucks and logged 1,896 minutes, the third most among players who spent the whole season in Milwaukee. He averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while making the gigantic leap from Greece's second division to the NBA. "At the beginning it was hard to believe," Antetokounmpo said. "I was thinking, like, 'Whoa, I'm playing with these guys now? I'm on the same court as these guys?' But as the season went on and on I began to believe and I said to myself, 'I belong here.'" Looking back at the rookie season that was, Antetokounmpo sees an incredible experience that has left him aspiring for more. "It was amazing," Antetokounmpo said. "I really enjoyed it and had some fun. Coach told me that I did good, so I am happy with myself but I am not satisfied. I've got to work this off-season and come back better." Asked to grade his performance this season, Giannis was quick with his reply. He says he only deserves a D-minus, though he admitted he's a hard grader. The experience he gained this season helped him get stronger and more confident, but he still has a long list of things he wants to work on during the off-season. "(I have to work on) everything," Antetokounmpo said. "My shot, my dribbling, my body. My coach says I need to work on my explosiveness and being in the right spot defensively. "I'm going to continue working on my body for sure because I have to get a lot stronger. Coach said my progress was very nice, so I'm just going to try to get some more progress and get better, stronger and bigger." During the summer, Antetokounmpo plans to travel back to Greece. He'll also help his older brother, Thanasis, prepare for the NBA draft starting May 1. The two brothers will train together ahead of the draft combine in mid-May, and Giannis will focus on his own training before he heads to Las Vegas for summer league with his teammates. It won't be a whirlwind summer like last year for Antetokounmpo, but it will be a busy one nonetheless. He's happy to have found a new home where he has been accepted and has a chance at stability for himself and his family. "I love Milwaukee," Antetokounmpo said. "Thank God Milwaukee loves me, too. I hope I'm here for a long time and being with these guys was really fantastic." Staying loyal:Ramon Sessions is a free agent as of July 1 but said he would welcome a return to the Bucks. Sessions thrived with Milwaukee after arriving in a trade deadline deal with Charlotte in late February. And he embraced the opportunity despite going from a playoff-bound team (the Bobcats) to the worst team in the league. Sessions remembered how the Bucks took a chance on him and drafted him with the 56th overall pick in 2007.
Bucks' Antetokounmpo hopes to build on early success
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Apr 18