Every year, the NBA does a GM survey in which they ask many interesting questions, one of them being, “If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?” We decided to go back and check out how the two-time MVP and the 2021 Finals MVP did in the last few polls.
From zero to hero
In 2013, Giannis was drafted with the 15th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. Back then, he was still wiry thin, and very raw in terms of skill. The expectations were not very big coming from a player from Greece who started playing late. Giannis had to work twice as hard to get where he is right now and earn the respect of fans.
As he put on weight season after season, Antetokokounmpo caught the attention of team executives around the league. The first GM survey his name showed up in was in 2016. He was tipped to be among the stars who would break out that season, alongside fellow big men Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis. LeBron James was still going head-to-head with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors at that time.
Two years later, the Greek Freak was named the top player to build a franchise around 30 percent of the GM votes. He was ahead of Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. This tells how team executives have viewed Giannis: a player who will be unstoppable if he puts in the hard work and makes the most out of his athletic gifts.
In 2019, the stakes were higher. He was chosen as the MVP favorite. The idea of becoming a back-to-back MVP was not a stretch. Antetokounmpo was fresh, leading the Bucks to 60 wins and an Eastern Conference Finals berth. Yet again, he was selected as the top player to start a franchise with.
What makes him an ideal franchise cornerstone?
Giannis displays humility that is rare among the league’s superstars. He is perceived as an all-around nice guy who demands respect among his teammates because he walks the walk. Every year Antetokounmpo adds different skills and develops his body to become a force to reckon with. This is one of the reasons why he has been a favorite among GMs to start and lead a franchise. Giannis is no diva and wants to win and lead by example.
In 2020, Giannis again got the top votes, but this time, with Luka Dončić as the runner-up. Antetokoumpo went from beating Karl Anthony Towns to Luka Dončić – players behind him have changed, but for the past few years, Giannis has been at the top. It will not be surprising if he gets voted again in the next few years, given that he knows what it takes to win one. Giannis is hungry, and he will keep on feeding, and GMs love him for it.