- Aaron Gash/AP
The Milwaukee Bucks made a big investment for their future on Monday, signing 21-year-old forward Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo to a four-year, $100-million contract extension, accordng to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
While it’s a high price to pay for a 21-year-old who’s still very much developing, it may look like one of the better contracts in the NBA in a few years.
In three years, the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo has shown signs of growth every season, boosting his scoring, shooting, rebound, passing, and basic defensive numbers each year he’s been in the league. The only statistical area he’s regressed has been in three-point shooting, which is not a huge aspect of his game.
Last season, Antetokounmpo wowed the NBA world by taking over ball-handling duties in the second half of the season and nearly averaging a triple-double. After the All-Star break, he averaged over 18 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block per game while shooting over 50% from the field. Importantly, last season, he also raised his usage rate considerably while lowering his turnovers.
All of this is to say that Antetokounmpo’s ceiling is unlike anything the NBA has seen. Though he won’t be a point guard full time, he’s an athletic wing who can play both ends of the court, handle the ball, and has the size of a big man, but moves like a guard.
This is special:
Given the way Antetokounmpo surprised the league with his ball-handling capabilities last season, it remains unknown what else he can add to his game. In three years, he could improve exponentially and he’ll still only be 24 years old.
With the NBA’s salary cap expected to rise to $102 million next summer, Antetokounmpo’s less-than-max deal will look even smarter. The Bucks have a potential superstar in the making, at 21 years old, on a discount deal.
Much of the Bucks rebuild remains hazy, but they nailed a crucial first step: finding a young building block and locking him into a long-term, affordable deal.
In the meantime, somebody get Giannis a smoothie.