The future of the National Basketball Association has arrived in the form of a 22-year-old from Athens, Greece, who didn’t start playing basketball until he was 12, who discovered the joys of a smoothie just a few years ago, who watched Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America over and over to improve his English, and who feels like he’s still figuring it all out on the basketball court. Giannis Antetokounmpo is truly unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Entering his fifth season in the league, he is already looking like the next best basketball player in the world.
Four years ago, the Milwaukee Bucks used their 15th pick in the 2013 draft—one in which better-known college players like Anthony Bennett and Victor Oladipo were selected first and second overall—to nab Antetokounmpo, then a relatively unknown player from Greece. Three weeks earlier, he had left his home country to participate in a tournament. His play there caught the attention of scouts. Now he stands at 6-foot-11 and 222 pounds, but on draft night, before he became “the Greek Freak,” Antetokounmpo was just another foreign, vaguely mysterious prospect with a tantalizing 7-foot-3 wingspan.
Antetokounmpo broke out last year in this fourth NBA season, averaging 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks, becoming the first player in NBA history to finish in the top 20 in each of those categories and just the fifth player ever to lead his team in all five categories. Even amid all the hype, he hasn’t slowed a bit this season. Through his first five games, Antetokounmpo tallied 175 points, 53 rebounds, and 28 assists—a benchmark trifecta that is unprecedented in league history. Based on a metric called Total Points Added, which accounts for the offensive points added and defensive points saved by an individual player, Antetokounmpo is the most complete player in the league this season.