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Celtics GM Danny Ainge reveals why he passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2013 NBA Draft

  • Imagine if the Greek Freak was in a different shade of green.
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Modified 01 Apr 2020, 17:29 IST
Gian
Giannis Antetokounmpo is quickly becoming one of the best players in the NBA

What's the story?

Ahead of their game on Tuesday evening, Danny Ainge discussed what could have been with the Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Boston Celtics' General Manager and President of Basketball Operations spoke with Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald to discuss the 2013 NBA Draft.

In case you didn't know...

The 2013 NBA Draft also had what was considered to be one of the biggest busts of all-time with the #1 overall pick when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett out of UNLV.

In four NBA seasons, he only started four games and is currently playing for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G League where he is seeing modest success averaging 14.3 PPG and 6.8 RPG this season.

The heart of the matter

At the 2013 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics had the 13th pick (after a trade with the Dallas Mavericks) of the first round while the Milwaukee Bucks had the 15th pick. Boston took center Kelly Olynyk out of Gonzaga, and Milwaukee took Giannis Antetokounmpo from Filathlitikos B.C. in Greece.

While Antetokounmpo is a two-time NBA All-Star and fast becoming one of the best players in the league, Olynyk is no longer with the Celtics as he's playing in his first season with the Miami Heat. Needless to say, Olynyk isn't quite having the same success as the Greek Freak.

When Bulpett asked Ainge why he took Olynyk over Antetokounmpo, he stated that Giannis was a very bright talent, but was more of a project compared to an NBA-ready Olynik who left Gonzaga after his junior season.

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Ainge would further explain below:

“But never in a million years did I see him becoming a potential best-player-in-the-league type of player. And I saw his potential as a good player because he could handle the ball, and he was long. But he was really, really skinny, and I think he was about two or three inches shorter than he is now. But what an amazing player.”

Doc Rivers was the head coach at the time of the 2013 NBA draft and he preferred big men who could handle the ball; which was why they went the direction that they did.

What's next?

The Boston Celtics (53-23) have a firm grasp on the second seed in the Eastern Conference with an outside shot at catching the Toronto Raptors in the six remaining games.

The Milwaukee Bucks (41-36) are in eighth place in the East but have a four-game cushion over the ninth-placed Detroit Pistons.

The Celtics and Bucks will clash on Tuesday evening.

Author's take

The good news as a Celtics fan is the fact that 13 other teams also passed on Antetokounmpo in the 2013 NBA Draft. You just never know.

I don't fault Ainge at all for going for more of a sure thing than a project because at the time of the said draft, it was five years since the 2008 title run with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett.

Olynyk played for three years at one of the top colleges in the country and it's just sometimes these "projects" turn into superstars and electrify the league.

Published 04 Apr 2018, 05:25 IST
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