DeMar DeRozan has given Giannis Antetokounmpo his flowers for the progress he has made in his NBA career. Antetokounmpo took the time to become the superstar he is today. But once he did, there was no looking back for the "Greek Freak."
DeRozan, then with the Raptors, played against Antetokounmpo in the Eastern Conference for a few years before his move to San Antonio in 2018. He witnessed Giannis' rise during those years closely.
DeRozan recently spoke about the development the Milwaukee Bucks superstar underwent during that stretch on The Old Man & the Three podcast (H/T Clutch Points), saying:
"Being in the East for so long before I went to San Antonio playing against Giannis, and seeing the development to where he is now, it's incredible. It's remarkable the effort that you see he put in to want to be great.
"It's something that, as a basketball fan and a spectator, I look at a guy like Giannis, or if I'm someone else who is trying to make it, let me see how dedicated he was."
"Because I remember when he first came to the league, he was just a skinny kid. You would push him around, didn't really know how to play basketball...
"But for him, you could tell the dedication in how badly he want it. Even to this day, you could just see how bad he wants it, you can see it physically, his demeanor, when he go out there on court he's a f***ing killer."
Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't come into the league as a top prospect. He had the potential to become a star, but no one would've bet on him to become a perennial MVP candidate. He worked on his physique and several aspects of his game, becoming arguably the most dominant player in the league today.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is getting the respect he deserves around the NBA
The NBA fraternity has openly spoken about Giannis Antetokounmpo and his status as arguably the best player in the world right now. For years, he was considered a one-dimensional player who wasn't as skillful. However, Giannis has changed that narrative.
It happened after he won his first NBA championship in 2021. Fans, critics and even his peers have been high on Antetokounmpo's exploits as he has grown into his career. Several publications have ranked him as the No. 1 player entering the 2022-23 season.
He has modified his game every year and added new skills to his arsenal on the offensive side of the floor. Giannis Antetokounmpo has become a better playmaker and a floor general for the Milwaukee Bucks. He has also improved on his mid-range jumpers, an area that was a weakness in his game for several years.
At 27, Giannis has already hit his prime. He is an NBA champion, a finals MVP, a 6-time All-Star, 2-time MVP, and a DPOY with six All-NBA and five All-Defensive team nominations. One can only imagine the potential he could unlock over the next few years.