Every saga has a beginning. But, at first glance, the story of how the Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2013 NBA Draft is really not that interesting.
Antetokounmpo placed 15th overall in a weak draft class, and he easily became the top player among those selected. However, what if he makes a pick sooner and one of the two teams takes a chance on an intriguing prospect of Greece?
The Timberwolves chose Shabazz Muhammad over Antetokounmpo in 2013
Let’s go back to June 2013, when the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the world by selecting UNLV big man Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick.
Several picks later, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz pulled off a draft night trade. The Jazz traded to No.9 and selected Michigan point guard Trey Burke, who they hoped would fill the void created after the team traded Deron Williams to the Nets two years earlier.
The Timberwolves moved up to No.14 and selected UCLA swingman Shabazz Muhammad. An all-American in high school, Muhammad had a reputation as a dangerous shooter, which the Timberwolves desperately needed. However, it was clear after his one year in college that he probably needed more seasoning, especially in defense.
The Bucks, as we now know, picked Antetokounmpo a later pick. Burke is now a replacement for the Dallas Mavericks, while Muhammad last played professional basketball in China in November 2019.
What would have happened if the Jazz had chosen Antetokounmpo instead?
Imagine the Jazz never traded to pick Burke and instead drafted Antetokounmpo against Muhammad with the 14th pick overall for the sake of conversation. Andy Larsen, a jazz beat writer for The Salt Lake Tribune, once suggested the idea on Twitter.
Remember, the Jazz also drafted Rudy Gobert in 2013. And despite his insane behavior at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no question that Gobert is one of the greatest advocates of his generation.
The idea of ââAntetokounmpo and Gobert teaming up in Utah sounds like the makings of a dynasty, doesn’t it? Well, don’t expect the Jazz to start defeating Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors just yet.
After Antetokounmpo played his rookie season under Larry Drew, the Bucks hired Jason Kidd as the franchise’s next coach. According to the official NBA website, Antetokounmpo made it clear in 2018 how much Kidd had helped him grow as a player.
“[Kidd] trusted me. He put the ball in my hands. He pushed me to be awesome.
Kidd is one of the greatest pointers in modern NBA history. Quin Snyder, who took over after the 2013-14 season, is he doing the same? As for Snyder, to what extent does his lack of NBA playing experience impact Antetokounmpo’s development?
This is the tricky part of a simulation scenario, especially with a young player. As fun as a duo of Antetokounmpo and Gobert seems, the lack of Kidd – assuming Jazz are still hiring Snyder – means the talented striker is unlikely to ever become the Greek Freak as we know him.
Timberwolves fans shouldn’t be too excited about the idea
Unfortunately for jazz fans, we don’t see Antetokounmpo becoming a star in Utah like he did in Milwaukee. But at least they’ll fare better than Timberwolves fans in this scenario.
Training and lack of Kidd is still a problem in Minnesota, but so is the overall organizational structure of the Timberwolves. It’s easy to see the team losing patience with Antetokounmpo’s development and possibly including it as a side piece in a trade.
For example, remember the Timberwolves’ decision to trade playmaker Mo Williams and second-year goaltender Troy Daniels to the Charlotte Hornets in February 2015? It may be Antetokounmpo, and not Daniels, who starts playing for Michael Jordan.
If the Timberwolves have selected Antetokounmpo, it is not unrealistic to think that he would eventually become a very good player, if not a star. But don’t sound so confident that he accomplished this feat with an organization that constantly traded young players.
The Bucks won the NBA Draft in 2013 and they are on the verge of winning a championship with Antetokounmpo in the lead. Jazz fans at least have the duo Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Timberwolves fansâ¦ well, enjoy Alex Rodriguez, we’re guessing.
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