Don't compare Giannis to Gordon Hayward
By Jamie Wianecki
Now that the Celtics have wrapped up at least a 3 seed in the Eastern Conference for the next 4 years, the media’s heads have turned to soon-to-be free agent, Giannis Antetokounmpo. And by soon-to-be free agent, I mean in the summer of 2021. The biggest reason people are even talking about the possibilty of Giannis leaving Milwaukee is ESPN’s newly acquired, Adrian Wojnarowski, “Woj”, said the below statement on ESPN radio’s Ryen Russillo show.
"Milwaukee's going to go through this with the Greek Freak. That days coming, right? Where he's going to look and say, 'Where is this organization? What are they doing here?' Like, you don't think Giannis has been watching what went on there for the last several months? Of what they allowed to go on with the front office? He's watching it. And the clock has started. Everybody in the league is trying to figure out how they are going to get him out of there. That has started."
I understand the concern by Bucks fans and the excitement for Knicks fans that Giannis would leave Milwaukee. But not only is this only pure speculation coming from Woj, but they are in completely different situations. Even though both Giannis and Hayward both signed 4 year deals as restricted free agents, there are many many differences.
Giannis is A LOT better than Gordon Hayward right now
At 22-years-old, Giannis is a top 10 player. He’s a top defender by every measurement, he scored 20 points per game and led the Bucks to the playoffs despite major injuries throughout the season. In addition, Giannis is an excellent rebounder, shot blocker and passer. And at 22, his game is only going to get better. Especially because you know he wants it to get better. Gordon Hayward, albeit is a very nice player, is probably the 25th best player at 27-years-old, right in his prime. Is he going to keep getting better as he ages and loses some of his athleticism? In the next four years, we will see how Giannis’s game transforms. Will he develop a three point shot or will he become an even better passer? We will see, but if he’s already a top 10 player now, there is no reason to think in 4 years when LeBron and Chris Paul are 36, Steph Curry is 33, KD and Russell Westbrook are 32, and James Harden is 31 that he wouldn’t be a top 3-5 player.
Giannis doesn’t have the same connections to other teams Hayward does
If you are a basketball fan, you know that Brad Stevens recruited Gordon Hayward when Hayward was still only 6’4, but then hit the jackpot and grew another 4 inches, despite having two 5’10 parents.The relationship between Hayward and Stevens is the biggest reason I think Hayward went to Boston. Considering the loyalty Hayward has to Stevens, the success they had together at Butler (National Championship game loss in Hayward’s sophomore year) and the success Stevens has had with the Celtics--who have consistently overachieved in the 4 seasons he’s been there (with the exception of his first year where they won 25 games) Hayward couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join the former Eastern Conference 1-seeds. With all of that said, Giannis doesn’t have a college coach or a former mentor who is coaching one of the (on paper) brightest teams.
Don’t get me wrong, I am as concerned a Bucks fan as the next one of Giannis leaving. If he were to leave, the Bucks roster doesn’t look all that strong. They have a few young guys who could pop in Thon Maker, Malcolm Brogdon and possibly Jabari, but all of those players have a lot of work to become top 12-15 players. If Giannis doesn’t sign an extension in the summer of 2020 it will be more like the Kevin Durant situation than the Gordon Hayward situation. And that will be a very very sad summer in Milwaukee.