Giannis Antetokounmpo has beaten all the odds. He went from being an unknown, unranked player that used to share a pair of sneakers with all his brothers to the reigning MVP of the NBA. All in less than a decade.
His hard work, grit, and grind have made him one of the greatest talents to actually blossom in NBA history. He's got the talent and obviously the physical tools, but it was his determination that made him improve year after year on every single aspect of his game.
Thus, he's reportedly leading the race to win both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards this season, and he'll try to put the cherry on top of the sundae by winning his first-ever NBA Championship.
However, we all know that winning a ring is an almost impossible task and while the Milwaukee Bucks have put together a team that suits Giannis' skills pretty well. It still feels like they could do better. So, let's try and create the ultimate team to surround Giannis and win a Championship with a $15 salary cap.
$5 - LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden
The $5 tier features 5 of the top 6 best players in the NBA right now, obviously excluding Giannis. They could run a powerhouse of their own and combined with the Greek Freak, could turn any team into a dynasty in no time at all.
LeBron James' skillset would be a good fit next to Giannis. They would be impossible to double-team in the post and their bodies, strength, speed, and athleticism would make them a nightmare in both ends of the court once they hit the paint. Still, perhaps spacing could be an issue with them.
Kawhi Leonard is the silent killer a vocal leader like Giannis needs. They share the same work ethic and are determined to win. Leonard is a great shooter and the best defender in the league. He can knock down threes, but he's money with the mid-range game, which could also be an issue in the offensive end.
Stephen Curry looks like a perfect fit next to Giannis. He can run the point or play off the ball and is the greatest shooter of all time. His presence looming around the perimeter would take a lot of attention off of Antetokounmpo and help create a lot of space.
The same can be said about Kevin Durant, arguably the most perfect and versatile scorer the league has ever seen. Durant's stroke from beyond the arc would make it tough on defenses to keep Giannis in check. His length and rim protection skills would also help them switch a lot and throw many different looks on defense.
And finally, we found James Harden, who doesn't seem to care much about Giannis. But, personal issues aside, maybe pairing the two isn't the greatest idea. Harden knows how to share touches but needs the ball on his hand to be impactful. Also, he makes the most of his assists from drive and kicks, and Giannis would struggle in those kinds of sets.
$4 - Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis
The $4 tier features players that would have to take a step back to help Giannis blossom. They're some of the most talented players in the league but it's still unclear whether they can win on their own, so they'd be thrilled to have the Greek Freak by their side.
Kyrie Irving is a bit of a troublemaker. A 1-2 punch with him and Antetokounmpo could be unstoppable in the offensive end, but their different characters make it seem like a Kobe-Shaq / Kobe-Dwight kind of situation in the locker room.
Russell Westbrook has already proven that he's more than willing to sharing the spotlight with another star. He'd get along just fine with Giannis and his desire to win. They're equally as tough and competitive. Westbrook's subpar three-point shooting could be an issue unless they're surrounded by more shooters, though.
Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo could lead a dynasty for 10 years or so. Embiid is one of the most talented two-way big men in the league and, together, they'd be just unguardable below the rim. They'd need a solid playmaker to make it work.
Just like Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard looks tailor-made to play next to the Greek Freak. He can either run the point or play off screens, pull up from all over the court, and won't hesitate to make his teammates better as a pass-first kind of guy if needed.
Anthony Davis is as talented as Giannis. He could even be on the higher tier but he's struggled to prove that he can lead a team on his own. He's the best rim protector on the league and can play and guard all the way to the perimeter as well. They'd be one of the most dynamic frontcourts in the league.
$3 - Klay Thompson, Paul George, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler
You need a solid defense if you want to win an NBA Championship. Luckily for Giannis and us as GMs, the $3 tier features fours of the best defenders in the game.
Klay Thompson looks like an obvious choice here. He's one of the best backcourt defenders in the league and doesn't need to have the ball on his hand to make an impact. He doesn't even need to dribble to put up 25+ points and knock down multiple threes in the blink of an eye.
Paul George went from first scoring choice to second gun but he didn't seem to mind at all. He embraced his role with maturity and his two-way expertise would be perfectly suited next to Giannis. They'd play lockdown defense and he'd be in charge of scoring from outside the restricted area.
Nikola Jokic would be an interesting fit next to Giannis. He could play the four in defense and the five in offense, Giannis being a much more physical and better defender than him. Jokic's playmaking and shooting skills could do wonders around the Greek Freak on a fully-motioned offense.
Pairing Giannis with Ben Simmons would be great in terms of getting stops. They both can guard one through five with their length and defensive instincts. However, Simmons' lack of range would make it easier for their rivals to collapse the paint in the playoffs.
And finally, we find Jimmy Butler. Butler doesn't like not being the alpha dog in town so that may be a problem here. He's one of the best stoppers in the league but his offensive fit next to Giannis would be somewhat questionable, as they tend to get their touches around the same spots.
$2 - Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jayson Tatum
We've seen multiple two-way studs and franchise players on our list so now it's time to round up our starting five by adding a pure scorer. $2 tier has five of the most promising and already dominant of them.
Bradley Beal doesn't get the love he should be getting because of how poorly his team has fared but make no mistake, he's a walking bucket. He drives, creates, plays off the ball, and can score from all over the court with ease, thus making him an interesting choice for Giannis.
Devin Booker's career is going to waste so it would be great to finally watch him win some games. He's flawless in the offensive end of the floor and one of the most efficient scorers in the game. His skill set would be perfect next to the Greek Freak.
Luka Doncic took the league by storm from day one. He's better than everybody expected him to be and looks like an offensive juggernaut in the making. The only questionable thing with him and Giannis would be that Doncic is the most ball-dominant player of this list.
Karl-Anthony Towns may not get along with Antetokounmpo right away. His drive, character, and intensity have been questioned since he entered the league, and that just doesn't fly with the Greek Freak. All things aside, he's an unstoppable scorer in the post and a solid rim protector.
Finally, we find Jayson Tatum, a guy that is yet to break out as the superstar we all know he'll be. He's got all the tools to be a perennial 27 PPG scorer. Most importantly, he's also already a great wing defender and the best two-way player of this list, and he doesn't need to hog all shots to be impactful.
$1 - DeMar DeRozan, Pascal Siakam, Zach LaVine, Kemba Walker, CJ McCollum
No team is done without its sixth man. Everybody needs a guy to come off the bench and help pull off or spark a comeback with its instant offense, and that's what we'll find in the bottom tier of our list.
DeMar DeRozan tried to lead a team to success. It didn't work out, but that's not entirely on him. Still, it's clear that he's better off as a second gun than as a go-to-guy. He's a great all-around player and could embarrass defenders coming off the bench night in and night out.
Pascal Siakam continues to rise in the league. His skills and instincts in both ends of the court make him an intriguing prospect every team would've love to have. He could be a Lamar Odom kind of player for this team coming off the bench.
Zach LaVine wants to prove that he's a winner but he's never been in a position to succeed. He'd finally be if chosen for this team, and he'd be a major problem for their rivals. He can score 25+ in limited touches the same way Lou Williams does.
Kemba Walker is just too good to come off the bench but that would speak volumes of how overpowered this team is. An All-Star scorer and point guard as the team's sixth man would pretty much put the last nail on their rivals' coffin when he's called to the scorers table.
And last, but not least, we find CJ McCollum. He's proven to be willing to taking a lesser role in the offense if that helps the team, so he'd have no problem whatsoever crossing defenses off the bench for this team. He can also run the offense if needed and we all know he can get hot in no time.