Offseason Improvement: Who Could Mentor Giannis?

Which coach or player could Giannis Antetokounmpo learn from this summer? Plus: previewing the final week of the 2015-16 season for the Milwaukee Bucks, and much more.

After the Bucks played the Cavaliers on Tuesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo said he would like to work out with LeBron James over the summer, even if James might not be aware of such a plan.

“If I had the chance, the opportunity to work with him, of course I would,” Antetokounmpo told’s Chris Haynes. “You’d have to work with him. He’s one of the best players in the world. One summer working out with LeBron, you can learn a lot.”

When asked about what might prevent such a meeting, Antetokounmpo told Haynes, “It’s not up to me. It’s up to LeBron. I think LeBron has 150 times more things to do than [work out with] me over the summer.”

James was asked about it after the game and mentioned his “open door policy,” so an offseason meeting isn’t outside the realm of possibilities. One would think the possibility of a workout with James would be enough, but I, along with a number of my radio friends, just couldn’t help ourselves in asking another question:

If you were able to pick just one person for Antetokounmpo to work out with during the offseason, who would it be? Since it’s early April and the Bucks are out of the playoff race, here’s an extended version of an answer to that question.

Coaches Division

Possibilities: Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Chip Engelland

My choice: Mark Price

I decided on Mark Price for two reasons. First, he was a fantastic NBA point guard, which seems to be a part of Jason Kidd’s tutelage that Antetokounmpo has really enjoyed. Hopefully, while they work out, Price can talk to him about the finer points of being a NBA point guard. Second, Price has worked extensively with a shooter that struggled with his outside shot, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, while he worked as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Hornets. Kidd-Gilchrist saw major improvement in his shot and became “a better, more fluid, more willing shooter” thanks to Price.

Former Players Division

Possibilities: Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill, Hakeem Olajuwon, Ray Allen, Andrei Kirilenko, Magic Johnson

My choice: Scottie Pippen

For a while now, a number of people have compared Antetokounmpo to Pippen and I think Antetokounmpo could learn a lot from the former Bulls great. Pippen has suggested that he would like to get into coaching in the past and serving as a mentor to Antetokounmpo could be the perfect way for him to prove his worth to NBA executives.

Pippen is one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all-time and played with a tenacity that few matched. He became a capable three-point shooter during the Bulls’ championship run after struggling mightily early in his career and probably finds himself on the short list of greatest defenders of all-time. The suggestions Pippen could give to Antetokounmpo on developing as both a shooter and defender could be immensely helpful as Pippen understands what it is like to be an unheralded “project” as a prospect.

Consider this from J.A. Adande’s on Pippen’s Hall of Fame induction: “If [Magic] Johnson was revolutionary as a 6’9” point guard, Pippen was evolutionary as a ballhandling 6’8” forward who could actually defend a 6’9” point guard in addition to rebounding and starting fast breaks and draining 3-pointers.”

Pippen might just be the perfect person to help Antetokounmpo take the next evolutionary step.

Current Players Division

Possibilities: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Nicolas Batum, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki

My choice: Kawhi Leonard

Leonard does not seem like a better choice than James or Durant on the surface and I understand that, so please give me a chance to explain. Since reading Lee Jenkins’ Sports Illustrated profile, I can’t help but think Leonard is exactly the kind of superstar I’d want on my team.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA. He’s the league’s best perimeter defender. He scores 21 points per game and finds himself near the top of the list in field goal, three point, and free throw percentage among the league’s top scorers. Seriously, he’s 1.9 percent away at the free throw line from a 50-45-90 season. That is Steph Curry efficiency.

Yet, you rarely hear about him. He doesn’t do a bunch of commercials. He drives a 1997 Chevy Tahoe. He loves playing in one of the league’s smallest markets. And he only cares about becoming a better basketball player.

“He loves the game,” Popovich said of Leonard in Jenkins’ profile. “He ignores the rest of it.”

Clip of the Week

It seems unspectacular. Jabari Parker simply catches the ball, backs down his defender, and finishes in the lane with his right hand, but that is a game-winning shot without any hesitation. Parker could have thought about it or looked to pass it out to Ennis while trying to find space for his shot, but he didn’t. He took the ball and decided he was going to score.

It might not have been pretty, but it was a game-winner and hopefully one Parker will remember for a while because the Bucks will likely be leaning on him in similar situations for years to come.

What to Read

The Milwaukee Bucks are dope – The folks over at the Friendly Bounce are putting together season recaps for teams eliminated from the playoffs and they touched on the Bucks this season. One ten-word season recap from the piece: Regardless of disappointment, a young core is forming in Milwaukee.

Here are some things about the Bucks of late – Jeremy Schmidt (@Bucksketball) noted three topics that have caught his eye regarding the Bucks play recently. His thoughts on Khris Middleton, Tyler Ennis, and Rashad Vaughn were all quite interesting.

Giannis Antetokounmpo embracing new role as Bucks point guard – At Brew Hoop, Aron Yohannes talked with Antetokounmpo about his new role as Bucks point guard and what his goals will be for his development in the offseason.

Week in Review

Friday – Jabari Parker’s right-handed floater with 10 seconds left against the Orlando Magic gave the Bucks a one-point lead that they ultimately increased by two points to secure a 113-110 victory. And, oh yeah, Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up his fifth career triple-double. Big night for the Bucks’ two young stars.

Sunday – A disastrous second quarter left the Bucks behind the Bulls by 16 at halftime, but they clawed their way back into the game and remained within a single basket through the entire fourth quarter. Ultimately though, the Bucks couldn’t create the requisite offense needed to pull out a victory and lost 102-98, despite a career-high 34 points from Antetokounmpo.

Tuesday – 31 minutes and four dunks for Johnny O’Bryant. 45 minutes and 4-of-17 shooting for Rashad Vaughn. Antetokounmpo being very aware that he was two assists away from a triple-double for the entire fourth quarter of a 20-point blowout. Not much to enjoy in the Bucks’ 109-80 loss against the Cavaliers.

The Final Week’s Preview

Friday – After a five-game homestand, the Bucks start their three-game road trip out in Boston against the Celtics, who are currently fighting for the Eastern Conference’s third seed with Atlanta, Miami, and Charlotte.

Sunday – Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie resigned this past week and wrote a 13-page resignation letter to Sixers ownership that might have been leaked to the media by the newest chairperson Jerry Colangelo. So, yeah, the Sixers are as much of a mess as their 10-68 record would suggest.

Monday – The Bucks’ final road game of the season will be in Orlando as they face the Magic for the second time in ten days. Like Milwaukee, Orlando is out of the playoff picture, so the only thing on the line for both teams will be pride (and their respective lottery chances).

Wednesday – The Bucks’ season finale in Milwaukee might not affect the Indiana Pacers’ playoff eligibility, but could help them avoid a first round meeting with the Cavaliers as they are very close to the Pistons for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference standings.

Stats of the Week

3 x 35 – Middleton, Parker, and Antetokounmpo have all averaged 37 minutes or more per game after the All-Star Break. They are just three of just six players to average more than 37 minutes a game. The only two teams to have three players average more than 35 minutes a game after the All-Star Break: the Bucks and Timberwolves. Are they just getting young guys the reps they need? Or are they overworking their young players?

3 x 18 – Middleton, Parker, and Antetokounmpo are three of 34 players to have averaged 18 or more points per game after the All-Star Break. The Bucks are the only team in the league that have had three players average 18+ points per game in that time span.

3 x 4 – Middleton, Parker, and Antetokounmpo are three of 20 players 6’7” or taller to drive to the basket four or more times per game. The Bucks are the only team in the league that had three players that tall drive to the basket that often.

Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine’s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can also find his work at SBNation’s Brew Hoop or you can find him on Twitter @eric_nehm and tell him what you think of Tyler Ennis’ future with the Bucks.