Heisler: The 5 players changing life as we knew it in the NBA
By Mark Heisler
If we’re not even up to Thanksgiving, here are the players, and in one (wince) case, the father, already changing life as we knew it in the NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks — Talk about the pitfalls of globalism. We just learned to spell Luc Richard Mbah a Moute when along came this 19-year-old known as the Greek Freak…. mostly so people didn’t have to deal with his name, which is pronounced YON-nis Ahn-day-doh-KOOM-poh.
That tripped even the scrupulously briefed Pres. Barack Obama, who spit out something like Ahn-ted-oh-ted-oh-koom-poh in a shout-out while speaking in Greece, prompting laughter from his audience.
It’s rare to see anyone crash the top five MVP candidates, let alone a Greek teen who dropped to the Bucks at No. 15 in the 2013 draft after Nerlens Noel (No. 6); Ben McLemore (8); Trey Burke (9), Michael Carter-Williams (11); Kelly Olynyk (13) and Shabazz Muhammad (14).
If lots of GMs are embarrassed, there are once-in-a-generation surprises that dumbfound everyone except one lucky team, like Michael Jordan dropping to the Bulls at No. 3 in 1985. This is one of those.
The 6-9 Antetokounmpo arrived with point guard skills but no shooting range, looking like a lot of skilled Euro-bigs who didn’t become NBA stars, like Toni Kukoc.
He proceeded to raise his scoring from 7-13-17-22 to this season’s 32, now shooting an other-wordly 60.1% with 9.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
Now there’s a top six: Steph Curry, Kevin Durant James Harden, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Antekuon… er, Anketo… you know who I mean.
Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks — Laker fans may wish to skip this section since the 7-3 three-point-shooting phenom dubbed “the Unicorn,” could have been theirs, going at No. 4 in 2015 after No. 2 D’Angelo Russell and No. 3 Jahlil Okafor.
Not that the then-19-year-old Latvian was a surprise. The Lakers thought about […]