How Giannis Antetokounmpo Can Have Successful Rookie Season for Milwaukee Bucks
Rookie small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won't see the floor a ton for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. But that doesn't mean there aren't things he can do to have a successful first year.
While veterans Caron Butler and Carlos Delfino will take up most of the minutes in front of him, Antetokounmpo will likely get his fair share of opportunities to see time on the floor.
In order for his rookie season to be a success, Antetokounmpo will need to make the most out of the little time he'll see.
But in order for it to be a productive year, he'll have to play defense, score efficiently and show a willingness to learn.
Strong Defense Can Earn Antetokounmpo More Minutes
From a defensive standpoint, the Bucks weren't very good in 2012-13.
In fact, they allowed opponents to score 100.4 points per game on them, which ranked 20th in the entire league.
Delfino and Butler are both aging veterans who were brought in to help give the team some pop on the offensive end. Neither are great defenders and neither will be able to stay in front of some of the quicker small forwards.
At 6'9", 210 pounds, Antetokounmpo has great size for the position he plays. On top of that, he's a long, lanky athlete.
According to NBADraft.net's Davide Bortoluzzi, he has a wingspan of 7'3" and also has rather large hands. Both of these physical traits should allow him to be pesky in the passing lanes and challenge almost any shot.
Bortoluzzi also points out he possesses solid defensive instincts and his timing on blocks is excellent.
While the Bucks will eventually need Antetokounmpo to step up and contribute in a large way on the offensive side, his best bet for capturing more minutes this season will be by playing good defense.
Not only can he use defense to be successful this year, but it will allow him to become a more valuable option in the future as well.
Be Able to Convert at a High Percentage
It's no secret the Bucks were one of the worst teams last year in terms of being able to score efficiently.
The 43.5 field-goal percentage they posted last season was terrible enough to put them in a tie for 27th among all other teams.
In order to become more successful on the offensive end, they need someone to produce efficiently and on a consistent basis.
Yes, it will be important for someone to step up and emerge as the team's go-to scorer but getting everyone to convert more opportunities will be of equal importance.
What level of impact will Antetokounmpo have during his rookie season?
In 2012-13 with Filathlitikos (Greece), Antetokounmpo converted 62.1 percent of the field goals he attempted over the course of 26 games.
No matter the position, that's a remarkable percentage.
Of course, the level of competition Antetokounmpo faced while playing in Greece is far inferior to that of the NBA, so that definitely could skew any of the numbers he previously posted.
Still, that kind of efficiency anywhere should be considered quite the accomplishment.
If he can come anywhere near producing at that kind of level in the NBA, he'll be more than worth the 15th overall pick.
With neither Delfino or Butler being extremely efficient players—career percentages of 40.1 and 43.7, respectively—Antetokounmpo can work his way towards more minutes if he can provide the Bucks with scoring without compromising efficiency.
And if he can do that, his rookie season will certainly be considered a success.
Demonstrating a Willingness to Learn
Whether or not it's as big of an issue as it is for some, Antetokounmpo must demonstrate he's willing to adapt to the NBA game and learn from coaches and teammates.
When he next steps onto the court, he won't be playing in Greece anymore. The competition for minutes will be much stiffer and the opponents will be far more talented.
For someone who hasn't had much of an opportunity to play in that kind of environment, it could easily become overwhelming.
However, that's where good coaching can have a major impact.
If Antetokounmpo can listen and learn as the season moves along, he'll be much better in the long run.
As with many young people, rookies can often have the mindset that they always know better and that's usually not the case.
Larry Drew has been an NBA coach—in some capacity—since 1992 and, given that experience, will certainly know how to approach the young Greek.
Whether he chooses to do his own thing or value each and every word the coaching staff gives him will go a long way in determining not only how successful he can be during his rookie season, but how successful he can be throughout his career.
After all, defying a coach typically doesn't get players very far.
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