Giannis Antetokounmpo called Kevin Durant the best player in the world during their recently-concluded playoff series, but it wasn’t the first time.
In terms of pure basketball style, Giannis and KD are about as far apart as possible. Technically, they’re both 6’11” forwards with freakish wingspans who’re adept at handling the ball. They can both set their teammates up well as facilitators when asked to do so.
However, that’s where the similarities end. While KD’s offensive game is all finesse and handles and shooting, Giannis lives in the paint. He attacks the rim with reckless abandon, and Zion Williamson might be the only player to challenge his dominance down there.
Also Read: “James Harden wanted no part of taking the last shot”: Skip Bayless chronicles what took place in the closing seconds of Game 7 between Kevin Durant and the ‘Beard’ in their loss to the Bucks
For all intents and purposes, Giannis plays on offense like a devastating rolling big when playing with a facilitator. Jason Kidd accelerated his growth as a complete basketball player by having him run as a point guard, but those days are now gone.
Nevertheless, given that Giannis fits a prototype in terms of his physique, he grew up idolizing those very players.
Giannis Antetokounmpo named Magic Johnson and Kevin Durant as his idols
There was a time when Giannis was viewed as one of the most spooky prospects in the world. He was drafted by the Bucks at a height of 6’9″ while weighing less than 200 pounds.
He was scouted by reporters from American news outlets, but he had no hype to speak of. All GMs would know in terms of preliminary info was that he was a wing with great mobility and a raw skillset.
This pre-draft interview is a great peek into the mind of a young Giannis. He’s asked the names of the players he idolizes and tries to copy, to which Giannis responded with a straight bat:
“I like Magic Johnson and Kevin Durant.”
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) June 16, 2021
Coming from modest means, the Greek Freak hadn’t received the nutrition that could’ve boosted his physique in his early teens. However, Milwaukee put him on the right path very early and helped him build it up over the years.
This put him on the fast track to superstardom, and he’s now leading a franchise to their second Conference Finals in 3 years. Hopefully, we’ll see more playoff battles between the Magic Johnson fan and Kevin Durant in years to come.