“He's just a skinny kid; you will push him around; didn't really know how to play basketball” – 5x NBA All-Star praises Giannis Antetokounmpo for his persistent efforts

Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Philadelphia 76ers.

Heading into this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the NBA's top players. While many now view him as a dominant force, it wasn't always that way.

Back in 2013, the Milwaukee Bucks rolled the dice on a skinny 19-year-old from Greece who had nothing but raw potential. They knew Antetokounmpo was going to be a long-term project, and their gamble paid huge dividends.

Since being drafted, the Bucks star has worked relentlessly to grow in every way possible. Along with improving his skills, he's filled out his frame to be a physical force around the rim.

One player who has seen Antetokounmpo's rise up close and personal is Chicago Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan. He recently appeared on JJ Redick's "The Old Man and the Three" podcast and spoke about how far Giannis Antetokounmpo has come on his journey:

"I remember when he first came to the league. He's just a skinny kid. You will push him around. Didn't really know how to play basketball.
"You could just see how bad he wants it. You can see it physically, his demeanor when you go out there on the court. He's a killer every time, man. As a fan, as a basketball fan, you got to respect that."

Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the NBA's best developmental stories

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland Trail Blazers.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland Trail Blazers.

There have been countless stories of players rising to superstardom from unlikely circumstances, but Giannis Antetokounmpo's is among the best. After spending his youth living in poverty in Greece, he had an opportunity to change his life forever. He pulled out all the stops.

Part of what makes the All-Star forward so easy to root for is because of everything he's endured getting here. The Milwaukee Bucks had high hopes for him as a prospect, but nobody expected him to become this dominant.

Mental toughness is a common trait that separates good and great players. When looking at his journey, it's evident that he has it in bunches. Because of what he went through in his youth, he was able to endure the hard work it took to reach his potential.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a prime example of a player entering the league and having an endless pursuit of greatness. Despite being behind the curve of those who were drafted with him, he didn't make excuses. Instead, he put his head down and got to work.

His level of drive and determination has resulted in him being on the fast track to being one of the NBA's greatest talents ever.

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Edited by Rajdeep Barman
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