Like the rest of us, Giannis Antetokounmpo has no choice but to marvel at what LeBron James is doing this season. The young Buck said he was inspired by the 35-year-old's ability to bring it each and every night and compete with Antetokounmpo for MVP honors. It was enough to make this mid-30s sports blogger's eyes water. Finally, the younger generation is understanding the beauty of aging gracefully.
James has been an athletic freak since he was a teen. Antetokounmpo's nickname tells you he is as well. Now 25, the 6-foot-11 superstar is enjoying his finest NBA season and has seemingly tapped into an efficiency sweet spot for Milwaukee.
With the necessary caveat that he stays healthy, Antetokounmpo is likely to have a Hall of Fame career and has a realistic shot to become one of the top dozen or so players of all time. He'll turn 35 in 2030 in his 17th NBA season, just like James. It's incredible to think of all he could accomplish between now and then, and all that James has done in a decade's time.
Part of James' excellence has been adapting his game, which he continues to do. He's shooting more threes and has turned himself into the league's assist leader. He's paired his unmatched talent with critical thinking.
Antetokounmpo has shown a willingness to do that, making the perimeter jumper an even bigger part of his attack. Giannis is launching 4.7 three-point tries this year, up from 2.6 last year. He still struggles with consistency, clocking in at shy of 31 percent. But if he's ever to get to 35 percent -- or, God, 38-40 -- we will be looking at an unstoppable force.
The Greek Freak is a unique kinetic experiment. Though he oftentimes makes one forget, he's bound by the limitations of the human body. Figuring out a way to keep his legs healthy in the long run is essential and, conceivably, more jump-shooting would help those efforts.
Still, his greatest attribute figures to always be an ability to go in a straight line from Point A to Point B, where Point B is the basket. We rarely now see him with his back to the basket, which would be a reasonable way to age. But there's the question of if that brand of low-post play will ever return to the NBA.
And that's illustrative. Part of the reason it's so hard to imagine what Antetokounmpo will be when he reaches James' current age of 35 is because it's so hard to imagine the direction basketball will take. Will it be even more reliant on small ball? Will bigs have a resurgence? Can Antetokounmpo's value actually go up? Will it go down? How much should the Bucks or whatever team he ends up on down the road let style dictate how they use such a special piece?
Giannis' future is bright enough to blind. Yet it's tough to make out what it looks like a decade from now.