Giannis Antetokounmpo, a.k.a the “Greek Freak,” is one of the most versatile players in basketball today with the ability to pass and guard all five positions while standing at a height of nearly seven feet. The only other seven footer we’ve witnessed in recent memory with as much versatility as the Greek Freak is Kevin Durant. While both players have freakish measurables and would’ve been considered aliens if they stepped on an NBA floor fifty years ago, they’re both two completely different players.
People need to stop saying Giannis is the next KD and here’s why. When KD was drafted second overall by the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, his “NBA skill” was that he was an elite scorer. During his one and only year at The University of Texas, KD averaged 25.8 points per game. Along with his high scoring average, KD became the first freshman ever to win both the Wooden and Naismith awards, two of the highest honors in college basketball. So, it’s safe to say that KD was a polished offensive product entering the league.
In comparison, when Giannis was drafted 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013, he entered the league as a “project.” Meaning, he was considered a raw prospect, but had the physical tools to potentially becoming a solid NBA player. As Bleacher Report wrote back in 2013, “Antetokounmpo is really on a five-year plan here in terms of when he’s likely to contribute as a regular rotation player, but his upside should be worth the wait if he ever reaches it.” Since being drafted, Giannis has improved every year moving up the ladder of NBA players. However, his improvement hasn’t been towards becoming a premier small forward like KD is, but rather towards an oversized point guard.
While playing multiple positions in the 2015 – 2016 NBA season, Jason Kidd (Head Coach of the Bucks), decided to move Giannis to the full-time starting point guard spot in the 2016 – 2017 season. As Kidd told reporters, “We’re going to go forward with him handling the ball. You can call him point guard, point forward, point center, however you want to look at it. With him having the ball and the pressure he puts on the defense and his ability to find guys, has been a plus for us.” As the Bucks’ point guard, Giannis has thrived so far. His per game scoring numbers increased by 6 points to 22.9 points per game, while his assist numbers increased by 1.1 assists to 5.4 assists per game.
A key stat to further consider when comparing the Greek Freak to KD is their shooting numbers. In the 2016 – 2017 NBA season, Giannis’ field goal percentage was 52.1% and his three point percentage was 27.2%. Whereas KD’s field goal percentage was 53.7% and his three point percentage was 37.5%. As you can see, KD’s shooting percentages are better than the Greek Freak’s percentages. And these numbers don’t take into account the fact that the opposing team’s defenses are trying to lock down KD from shooting “easy” jumpers, while for Giannis the defenses are mainly trying to prevent him from getting to the rim and distributing to teammates. While Giannis’ jumper has been improving over the years, he’ll never be considered a natural shooter/scorer like KD has been considered his entire professional life.
Though Giannis will never be the next KD, that doesn’t mean that he won’t become a great player. At only 22 years old, Giannis is widely considered one of the most exciting players in the league today with the potential to become a perennial all-star. If Giannis reaches his full potential, he’ll become a player that has LeBron’s passing ability with KD’s length. In 15 years when we look back at the careers of Giannis and KD, the only similarities that they will have is that they were both drafted by small market teams and had freakish length as NBA players.