Mitnick: Greek Freak will be This Year’s EuroBust

nbadraft13_300x250_3 (1)Meet Giannis Adetokunbo, the next big European bust in this year’s NBA draft.

With the NBA draft quickly approaching, Giannis Adetokunbo has been building up some hype as he finds himself predicted as a late lottery to late first-round pick in most mock drafts. (Colleague Joe Kotoch has him at No. 17 to the Hawks in Mock Draft 5.0.1) Since becoming a hot name, many high level decision makers have made the long trip to Greece to get a look at the mystery man who just recently turned 19. While he may be picking up a nice buzz, with some salivating over his potential, it is ludicrous that he is even considered to be a prospect for the NBA draft, let alone a realistic possibility to be a lottery selection.

Giannis AdetokunboAt 6’9”, Adetokunbo has excellent size and length for his position. He plays with a lot of fluidity, and for someone with a relative lack of experience, he seems very smooth and comfortable on the floor. He has great handles for a guy his size, and has solid court vision. Since he plays in a very low level league, in which he is athletically above the majority of the competition, he is able to make some spectacular plays.

While Adetokunbo has a nice frame and foundation to build upon, nothing about his skill set suggests he is an NBA caliber player. He is a sub-par outside shooter, has no jump shot off the dribble and overall struggles with decision-making. For a player who is supposed to be a point forward, it is concerning that in the 2nd division in Greece, he gets more turnovers than assists. Defensively, he has been solid and often makes spectacular plays, but he has never had to defend someone that will sniff the NBA, let alone play at a high level in Europe.

This past year, Adetokunbo made the big jump from youth basketball to the 2nd division in Greece, a league that more closely resembles a weak conference in NCAA D2 than the first division in Greece, Spain, VTB, or even the Big East or ACC. Having just recently gotten his Greek passport, he will be making his debut on the U20 national team this summer, where has been so-so in the pre-tournament exhibition games.

If a player is a legitimate NBA prospect, they should be dominating the European championships, not struggling to fit in.

(RELATED: Mock Draft 6.0: Cavs still have Len ranked ahead of Noel, may get Marion)

If Adetokunbo can develop high level skills, he has the frame and foundation to be a big time player, but how realistic is it that he will get to that level? When Dirk Nowitzki, Andrei Kirelenko and Pau Gasol were entering the NBA radar, they already were MVP level players in their domestic league and on their national teams. Even though they needed some time to develop into All-Stars, they had shown consistent flashes of All-Star performances at a high level before they entered the draft.

Adetokunbo more closely resembles Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Zarko Cabarkapa, players who had nice frames and good size for wings, that teams imagined could be great if they made jumps in their skills. Obviously, it is possible for a player to improve, and to reach new heights, but there needs to be a certain level of foundation before it’s possible to tell if a player can play at the highest level. How can it be justified that a guy like Adetokunbo would be in the conversation to be a lottery pick, but a guy like Solomon Hill, who has very high level skills all around, is trying to fight his way into the first round?

MaccabiRishonFrankly, I wouldn’t even consider bringing Adetokunbo as a foreigner in the first division in Israel, where I am an assistant coach for Maccabi Rishon.

Last season, at his position, we brought Julian Wright, a former lottery pick who played his way back into the NBA conversation this past season. To bring a 19 year old with no experience, no defined skill and no true position, when there are hundreds of other superior players out there on the market would be absolutely foolish. That is without mentioning that in Rishon, we have two young players, Or Solomon and Shawn Dawson, who likely will outperform Adetokunbo in the U20 European Championship.

While it is very possible that whatever team selects Adetokunbo will stash him in Europe to develop, he may struggle to get playing time with Zaragosa in the ACB, where he has already signed a contract.

While the NBA draft may be more about a player’s potential than about his current ability, there needs to be a certain minimum standard for teams to consider drafting a player. It may be fun to fantasize about what a player can be if he fulfills his basketball destiny, but if it is unrealistic, then the team will be left with nothing but a wasted draft pick, and regrets over what could have been.

AJ Mitnick is an American currently living in Israel and working for Maccabi Rishon Lezion of the Israeli Basketball Super League. A recent graduate of IDC Herzliya, Mitnick also maintains a  basketball blog,, and is pursuing a professional basketball coaching license from the Wingate Institute in Israel. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. Youreanidiot says

    lol you imbecile he’s averaging 22ppg 9rpg and 6apg. Plus he’s averaging 2spg and 2bpg. He’s far from a bust plus he’s going to be an all star this year. You also spelled his name wrong you kelp for brains smh. You should quit your job because you know nothing about sports

  2. JP says

    Just found the article! Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaahhhhhhhaahahahhahaha

    AJ Mitnick? Are you ok? Are you still with us?

    If interested, I can offer you some basketball tips, maybe give you some insight on how to spot a

    charismatic athlete, and even ask you to maybe stop writing about a sport you know nothing

    about. Shouldn’t you just quit?

    Why keep doing something you are not good at? Just because you wanted to play/coach/write,

    doesn’t mean you are able to. And this article is just a small, but pretty evident, sample size of

    how incompetent you are, when in comes to simple athlete analysis.

  3. Petros says

    I remembered that when Giannis was drafted some analysts predicted that he will never be an All-star but I never expected I would find this hidden gem! Talk about having an eye for talent :)

  4. SOBEK says

    i wrote giannis’s name the old way and i ended up here..what joy
    well mr mitnick i guess you were spot on everything.
    i am calling the bucks right now so they drop him in the d league or ship him back to greece again.
    oh wait..he is a starter?? in the nba??? 19yearsold and stuff?…but but mister mitnick swore!!

  5. Tom Samen says

    Tell me in which league was playin Dirk Nowitzki before coming to NBA. There is a gap in your knowledge as always.Of course ihave to admitt his not ready for NBA but he is only 18 not 19 as you wrote and his has skills that they can boost him ….

    Note :tecnically and tactically second league of Greece is harder than the first league of France and Germany.. And if you want we can speak why….

  6. Vaggelis says

    Manu was playing in the second league in Italy before he was drafted. Dirk in the second league in Germany (way worse than Greek second league) before he was drafted…….

    Also, name is spelled Antetokounmpo, AND he is 18 years old, not 19.

    Extremely poorly written article, and once again Greek players are being bashed for no reason.



  7. steppxxxz says

    well, this guy seems a lot like Biyambo. He just is very very very raw…..insanely low level of competition, and so its insane to think he’s a first round draft pick. He’s three years away from even being able to know if he can compete in the NBA. Biyambo still hasnt really paid off. Schroder on the other hand looks like possibly the best pg in the class….and I think Nedovic is a nice second rounder to develop. But Nedovic played for red star belgrade….and guys like Lima have played against good competition, or even livio Jean charles. But poor giannas…..boy, I wouldnt take him.

    • Vaggelis says

      “Insanely low level of competition”

      Where the hell do people come up with this stuff? Greek A2 league is a fully pro men’s league. It’s better than NCAA DI.

      I swear, there is so much total BS being said about Greek basketball in USA. It’s ridiculous.

  8. ced says

    Man I think you’re wrong, you can compare Dirk to Adetokunbo, he was also playing in Division 2 in Deutshland wich is actually worse than Greece D2 and was playing with the U20 too. So don’t go too fast.

  9. Art says

    Finally, somebody does not have any pink googles on his eyes, while scouting.
    The guy has BUST written all over him.
    May be, anybody remember Yaroslav Korolev who had not played on the high level before NBA.
    You should definitely take a look, how it happened and where his career is at the moment.

    Is it his real age BTW?

  10. Niko says

    The Greek hater strikes again. Never once has AJ said anything good about any Greek player. No matter what, all Greek players suck according to him.

    And he has said before that no one from Greece could ever play in the NBA.

    Totally biased nonsense article.


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