Before Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was a two-time NBA MVP, he was just a raw and unknown prospect in Greece.
With the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is chronicling the path that led to Antetokounmpo bursting onto NBA radars.
Woj reports it all began with a single email to then-New Orleans Hornets international scout Yarone Arbel:
In the late-night hours of Oct. 25, 2012, New Orleans Hornets international scout Yarone Arbel opened an email inside his Tel Aviv home to discover the sweetest siren of the scouting life: the suggestion of an undiscovered star. A Greek agent was pitching a buoyant 17-year-old Athenian point guard with long arms and a longer backstory, Giannis Ugo Antetokounmpo.
“Nobody knows about him,” Georgios Dimitropoulos wrote Arbel.
Arbel proceeded to watch the accompanying highlight reel, forwarding the email to Hornets executives and cross-referencing for any mention of Giannis on the worldwide web. There was none:
“We follow a vast majority of the 17-year-olds for two, sometimes three years, but there was nothing on him,” Arbel tells ESPN. “There were 150 views on the YouTube link, which means basically only friends and family.
“Nobody knew of him.”
The NBA’s early courtship of Antetokounmpo began slowly, especially when Arbel flew to Crete to watch the youngster score just one basket and foul out in 15 minutes.
Gradually, however, scouts flocked to Greece to get a glimpse of the kid who would become known as the The Greek Freak.
The Bucks would eventually make Giannis Antetokounmpo the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, officially beginning his ascent to the top of the league. He has since won back-to-back MVPs, but he’s still in search of that elusive NBA title.