If there were a time or a place to toss around clichés in an overt manner, any discussion about Giannis Adetokunbo would be the time and the place. That’s because outside of scouting circles there haven’t been many live eyes on the most mysterious man in the NBA draft. But when there is rare video footage, all the intangibles are there.
At 6’9, the 18-year-old has the wingspan and an upside that could probably be linked to Kevin Durant. His thin frame – which can fill out – and ballhandling skills are small-forward-esque though that’s about where the Durant comparisons end. Adetokunbo is more a facilitator than scorer. He has a very good feel for the game and a motor that with his U-20 Greek squad and with his pro team make him a unique talent.
Defensively, Adetokunbo has a natural feel as well. He’ll hustle for weakside blocks and can turn those defensive possessions or defensive rebounds into immediate breaks because of his ability to push the tempo and make the right pass.
Physically he’s limited of course. Adetokunbo’s wiry frame needs work, and this scouting report by The Team Rebound also backs up the worries about Adetokunbo’s physical limitations.
There are bigger issues though. For what makes Adetokunbo a potential fringe lottery pick could also cause him to fall out of the first round altogether. For all the talk about his potential, the Greek forward isn’t quite dominating weak competition – compare him to Durant, who was tearing Division I colleges to shreds around this age, and he has a long way to go.
NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper was at the adidas Eurocamp and like many NBA representatives made the trek to Jesolo, Italy, to take in a U-20 Greek game. The reports from the past week are all the same. Adetokunbo didn’t do anything to help his draft stock, often playing well within his potential but putting up decent enough numbers. In the game against a Croatian squad, Draft Express cut up some video of Adetokunbo, not for highlights but for a general feel of his game.
As the video alludes to, Adetokunbo is playing against competition well under what would be the Division I level, and Howard-Cooper calls it something like D-II or D-III college hoops. His jump shot is also a work-in-progress. But from a pure experience standpoint, Adetokunbo is still a mystery.
Obviously, Adetokunbo isn’t NBA ready. The remaining questions about where he should go in the draft will likely depend on whether NBA teams believe he can develop without their help. In other words, will he move up the ranks in Europe quick enough where the increasingly tough competition will help clear up his aptitude to cruise? Will he be a project for three or so years but never make it to the big stage? Or will an NBA team feel like it could bring him to the US and put in the resources to develop him from the ground up?
Drafting Adetokunbo is a strungout investment that could never pan out. He’s yet to show signs of dominance in the minor leagues and until he does so is a risky pick.
And without direct knowledge of him, it’s hard to tell if the hype machine is legitimate or just the trend similar to experts picking a first-round NCAA tournament upset.
How he fits with the Suns
If the Phoenix Suns believe that Adetkunbo is a risk worth taking at 30, it probably means he won’t compete for any roster spot this year. The roster could be completely different whenever he arrives, so it’s not worth mentioning now; the move would keep a decently-sized rookie salary off the books, however.
Many mock experts with more knowledge than me slate Adetokunbo to go well before Phoenix’s 30th pick. Just because of that, I can’t see the Suns passing him up at 30 if he’s around, but that being said, there are many more practical and NBA-ready contributors deep into the second round that could turn into better players.
Phoenix’s new international scouting consultant Emilio Kovacic probably has a grasp of Adetokunbo’s upside. He, assistant general manager Pat Connelly and video coordinator Nick U’Ren were in Italy to watch Adetokunbo with the Greek squad last week, Paul Coro reported.
And 1 … a second-rounder to consider
Augusto Cesar Lima. The 21-year-old Brazilians hasn’t done much to improve his stock over the last few years playing behind veterans in a tough Spanish league and he’s also been beset by injuries. The 6-foot-10 power forward is a good athlete whose spurts of physical defense can make up for his utter lack of offense. He’s a building block for the future and if there’s nothing else, the Suns could stow him in Europe in the case he develops.