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Report: Hawks were ‘really determined’ to get Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013 NBA draft

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo loses the ball as he drives past Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)


Mike Budenholzer just worked his way out of Atlanta to Milwaukee to coach Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo, just 23, is already a superstar. Helping to mold him is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

But what if Budenholzer could have been coaching Antetokounmpo all along?

The Bucks drafted Antetokounmpo No. 15 in 2013, but they had competition from the Hawks, as Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN detailed on The Woj Pod:

  • Wojnarowski: “That night with Giannis, Atlanta was really – Brian, you both know this. Atlanta was really determined to get him.”
  • Windhorst: “Oh, yes. I’ve listened to Danny Ferry’s sob story about this one.”
  • Wojnarowski: “Danny Ferry, Wes Wilcox were really focused on him.”

The Hawks entered the draft with the No. 17 and No. 18 picks. How determined were they if they couldn’t move ahead of Milwaukee picking 15th?

I believe Ferry and Wilcox, both since ousted, liked Antetokounmpo more than most teams did. But if they had an inkling Antetokounmpo would even near the level he actually has, the Hawks would have gotten him. He fell all the way to No. 15!

Instead, Atlanta traded up from No. 18 to No. 16 with the Mavericks – who have their own Antetokounmpo draft-night story – and got Lucas Nogueira. The Hawks took Dennis Schroder No. 17.

Of course, only the near-hits get leaked. All the times Ferry and Wilcox were “really determined” to trade for a player who wound up a bust, you’ll never hear about it.

Still, I’m fascinated by the “what if?” Atlanta already had Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. That same summer, the Hawks signed Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll to complete the starting lineup that would win 60 games a couple seasons later. Imagine that team with Antetokounmpo coming into his own.