The Cleveland Cavaliers will have a top-six pick and the 19th pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 27. Today, we profile Giannis Adetokunbo.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Giannis Adetokunbo
Team: Filathlitikos, Greece
Weight: 196 lbs.
Honors: 2013 Greek-League All-Star Team
2012-2013 Per Game Stats: 7.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 44.4 FG%, 33.9 3FG%, 70.4 FT%
Giannis Adetokunbo is a forward of Nigerian descent that was born in Greece but is under contract with a team from Spain, winning him the 2013 Luol Deng Ambiguous Nationality Award. He’s one of the more exciting late first round draft prospects this year and has a very unique game to break down. Since the Cavs were one of only two teams to get credentialed to an Adetokunbo workout last week, it’s safe to say that seeing Adetokunbo in a Cavs uniform is a possibility. So, let’s break down the tools and skills of one of the most interesting international prospects in this draft.
Last week, we discussed how Otto Porter was a phyiscal freak. Ditto for Giannis. Adetokunbo is 6-9, has a 7-3 wingspan, and while he’s a little thin at just over 195 pounds, he’s the youngest player in this year’s draft pool having turned 18 in December. As you saw at the 1:16 mark of the video above, his hands measure nearly a foot from thumb tip to pinky tip. He runs like a gazelle with a high-stepping gait, and while he’s not really explosive, his length and stride helps make him a threat as a leaper and finisher. He is somewhat like a newborn giraffe; he’s got some impressive size and length already but doesn’t know how to use it to its fullest extent. However, that will come with time. Adetokunbo’s only real red flag physically is strength, as he’s so slender right now that he might get eaten alive right away. However, as I explained under Otto Porter’s physical tools section, strength for slender guys who can play isn’t really an issue because given a couple years in an NBA strength and conditioning program (and in Adetokunbo’s case, a couple years to grow into his body), most slender guys aren’t so slender anymore. Also, as we’ll explain in a bit, Adetokunbo is very comfortable playing on the perimeter as well as inside, where strength isn’t as necessary a trait.
Adetokunbo’s offensive game is very fun. He’s an adept passer, someone who’s excellent at kick-outs from the post and distributing from the perimeter. The phrase “point-forward” gets thrown around a lot with him, and this is a fairly accurate term to describe his play. Adetokunbo isn’t going to bang down low offensively, preferring much more to distribute and attack off the dribble from the perimeter. He’s very good at the latter, using a crafty variety of hesitation moves and ball-fakes to get past his opponent rather than strength. As that improves, though, expect Giannis to become even better at attacking the basket. Adetokunbo is also really good at finishing fast breaks, using the same tools as well as his length to dunk the ball home. He’s a capable shooter, although his shooting motion isn’t great and he’s horribly inconsistent from deep. However, that’s something that should hopefully improve over time as well. If he joins the NBA immediately, he’ll have a lot to work on, but I think he’d still get some run as an effective passer and fast break weapon as he develops.
Giannis’s defensive abilities are questionable. He’s shown some potential as a shot blocker, someone who has a long reach and great instincts. He’s also excellent in defensive rotations, something a lot of players struggle with coming into the league. However, he has some gaping red flags as well. While he is an international player, and historically international guys have the stereotype of being passive defensively, the problems reach further than this blanket statement. For a perimeter player, Adetokunbo does not play good perimeter D. His closeouts are lacking, and he often struggles, even with his length, to affect shots on the perimeter. He also can get lost fighting over and through screens, which is partially a problem with his strength as well as his effort. He just doesn’t really work hard enough on defense. I think he can improve here, of course, but the effort issue is going to plague him.
The experience issue is going to be a red flag to some teams. Adetokunbo has only a couple seasons of U18 play for Greece and one strong season in the second division of the Greek Pro League under his belt. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a team left him playing in Spain for the next year or two, where he’ll be playing with one of Europe’s best developmental teams in Zaragoza. On court, his awareness and instincts are solid, and he seems determined to attack his weaknesses and get better. I think he’ll be fine in a couple years, but he’s certainly a project.
Tough because he’s so young, positionless and his body doesn’t make sense. I guess my favorite comparison would be Draymond Green; a bit of a reach because their body types are so different, as are their circumstances, but their games are surprisingly similar. Green is an outstanding passer and finisher and is a pretty smart player as well. He also hasn’t really found a position in the NBA, and he hasn’t figured out defense and threes yet either. These two, despite having completely different backgrounds and bodies, have very similar playing styles.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
He’s a bit of a project, but if the Cavs think he’s worth drafting to start right away, Adetokunbo could be a really effective bench player for the Cavs. Since he can play anywhere from the point to power forward, it would give the Cavs some fun small-ball lineups, and he would be fun to have on fast breaks with Kyrie Irving. Mike Brown would be an excellent defensive mentor for him as well. It’d also be pretty fun to watch Austin Carr try to announce his name. Right now, Adetokunbo is slated to go 25th in Draft Express’s mock draft, and Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports has him going 25th as well. NBADraft.net has him going 11th to Philadelphia. His stock is all over the place. Honestly, I think if the Cavs are in a good place with their first pick (Otto Porter or Nerlens Noel), and there’s no one on the board that fits their needs at 19, Adetokunbo is a great choice for them. And if they still pass on him at 19 and he’s available at pick 31, the Cavs should draft him with no hesitation, as his upside and profile of “potential small forward who can protect the rim” takes care of the Cavs biggest needs. I would love to see Adetokunbo come to Cleveland, even if he doesn’t come over right away. His buyout from Zaragoza is outstandingly manageable, so the Cavs could buy him out this summer or two years from now. Especially if he’s available early in the second round, Cleveland should jump on Giannis Adetokunbo.