Giannis Antetokounmpo is without a doubt one of the main candidates for the MVP award this season. He is averaging career highs in pretty much every statistical category while at the same time increasing his shooting percentages. The Bucks are looking good after the first 24 games this season are currently the second-best team in the eastern conference.
It was hard to imagine that a skinny kid from Greece would achieve these heights at such a young age, but there was one NBA legend he immediately saw all the potential Giannis has in comparison to other players and it was none other than Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon.
Back in 2015, when Giannis started to show signs that he might become a great player one day, Hakeem made some interesting comments about the Greek Freak that now that you look at them 3 years after really made sense.
He remembers the first time he saw Giannis play, and it was solely based on a highlight reel that showed Giannis running the ball coast to coast and finishing up with a strong jam.
“I’ve only seen the highlights from the Draft night, but I remember one move, and that one move was so impressive that I will follow his career in the NBA. The highlight was coast to coast. He was bringing the ball down from half court through traffic. To be able to go through traffic gracefully and finish was very impressive – I know what it takes to do that.”
Hakeem immediately knew he was watching a special player and instinctively was aware that he will continue to develop in the right way in the near future.
“I’m not really surprised to see him do well in the NBA – he will do much better with time and confidence. Confidence means a lot. Skills, as with maturity, will come, but that confidence level to express himself without fear — to experiment new moves or things that you are comfortable to do, but in a game situation and hold back — that confidence level takes time. First of all, it’s from coaching or from within.” He has the potential – the question is how to reach that potential.He has the potential to dominate in his position – so he needs to raise the bar.
Hakeem also shared a piece of advice for Giannis based on the experience he gained as a young and talented player in the league.
“Sometimes the coach will want to limit your ability: “just do this, just do this.” But you know you can do much more, but don’t do much more, just do what you’re asked – so you need to fight to express yourself.
Then (you) gain the coaches’ trust to be more comfortable, give more responsibility – then you have freedom, when you get to the point of (having) freedom, then the coach (will) trust your judgment, then you can play freely, then you can really excel to the next level.”