Giannis Antetokounmpo admits to being overwhelmed as a rookie

When Giannis Antetokounmpo’s name was called with the 15th pick in the 2013 Draft, 99.9 percent of the NBA community had never heard his name before.

After Google searching his name, it became evident that the Milwaukee Bucks decided to take a gamble on a lanky, raw 6’11” forward from Greece.

Now in his fifth NBA season, the “Greek Freak” has improved dramatically year after year and has emerged as one of the best players in the entire league. As a viable MVP candidate this season, he’s averaging 28.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists over 37.6 minutes.

In his rookie year back in the 2013-2014 season, it was a bit surprising to see Antetokounmpo on the court so much. Usually a player at his level of development would have spent time overseas or in the D-League.

However, he logged 24.6 minutes per contest over 77 games. Averaging just 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest, the teenager seemed completely overmatched, which was expected.

But, being thrown into the fire is apparently part of what made him as successful as he is today. In fact, that’s the main reason that he points to when asked how he became so dominant so quickly.

“For me, it’s like throwing a baby to the water and telling him to swim. You got to swim, because if you don’t swim, you’re not going to survive,” Antetokounmpo recently told Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports. “That’s what happened to me. I wasn’t right away ready to be the face of a franchise, but I knew if I worked hard and listened to my coaching staff and believed in myself, one day it might happen. It is happening. I’m loving it. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. I’m just having fun.”

He added, “Being 18, starting in the NBA, playing against LeBron, KD, Kawhi [Leonard], Paul George. … When you’re 22, 23 now, you’re not even scared of them. I’ve done this for five years. Guys are coming in the league now … I saw in this past draft, there are [eight] guys older than me. This is my fifth year in the league. There is nothing to be scared about. I’ve gone against LeBron [nearly] 20 times, guarding him. I’m learning from that. That makes me better. Imagine if I came this year, I wouldn’t be as good as I am now.”

The 23-year-old superstar is still seemingly years away from entering the prime of what should be a Hall of Fame-worthy career. Therefore, given the incredible numbers that he’s currently putting up, it’s exciting to think about how unstoppable he could become in a few years.

The Bucks’ decision to give him minutes right away certainly seems to have paid off even if he wasn’t quite ready to handle it.

News Now - Sport News