When Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo took off, he changed how seven-footers are perceived. Big men draining shots from beyond the arc and dishing out flashy passes are already impressive, but Antetokounmpo proved that seven-footers could also leap, run the floor, chase down opponents for shot blocks and score almost at will all game long.
Is Giannis the new Timmy?
Indeed, Giannis is unique, and some say he is the unicorn of his generation. However, people within the NBA and the Bucks organization saw a significant resemblance between him and NBA Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.
Antetokounmpo is undeniably an incredible player, but he is no analyst. So, of course, it’s totally understandable that “The Greek Freak” couldn’t confirm nor deny if he thinks he’s the new version of Timmy.
“Tim Duncan? I don’t know,” Antetokounmpo told NBA.com earlier this year. “That’s a tough one.”
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Similar in more ways than one
It could be that Giannis just didn’t want it to come out of his own mouth, but his coaches openly acknowledged his apparent similarities with Duncan. According to former Bucks assistant coach and current Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, Antetokounmpo and Duncan aren’t actually similar in terms of playing style and skill set, but they have something in common in the intangible aspect of the game – “seriousness and approach.”
“He’s a little bit different player than Tim,” Ham said. “Tim was more fundamentally based and nowhere near Giannis is athletically. Tim was a little more polished with his skillset with shooting the ball and scoring the ball. They’re both dynamic defenders. But Giannis tends to be able to guard a lot of smaller players a little bit better. But the parallels I see are more of the seriousness and approach they have with the game.”
Meanwhile, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer also had a similar take on the matter. Having witnessed Antetokounmpo’s humility after leading Milwaukee to its first NBA championship since 1971, Budenholzer could say “The Greek Freak” and “The Big Fundamental” are both remarkably down-to-earth guys.
“One of the many things that makes Giannis great and makes those players great is their humility is really high up there,” Budenholzer assessed. “I love Giannis’ humility. I think it’s fair to put him in that kind of bucket with Timmy, Manu and Tony and all of those guys.“
Initially, the Giannis-Duncan comparison could be considered a hot take, given the evident difference in their playing style. But some of the best minds in the game were able to point out the pair’s similarities.