Giannis Antetokounmpo insisting he won't go back to Greece next year. Wants to be in NBA now. That's scaring teams away in the lottery.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 27, 2013
Antetokounmpo is 1 to 2 years away from playing minutes on a NBA team. That's a very expensive D League player.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 27, 2013
If an NBA team wants to save money and/or simply does not see a player who they feel is capable of making an immediate impact coming right out of the draft, sometimes they instead to select an international prospect. With nothing to lose, it may be worth keeping an eye on what the player does overseas in the next couple of years to see if they've honed their skills enough to compete in the NBA. It's a low-risk, high-reward, move.
With that type of mentality in place, a number of NBA teams are considering Giannis Antetokounmpo as a low lottery to late-teens selection on Thursday night. He, however, isn't exactly on board with the plan.
As Chad Ford's tweets note above, Antetokounmpo has no intention of returning to play in Greece next season. Instead, he wants to embrace a role on an NBA squad. Such an opportunity may, however, be a couple years away.
Thus, the other possibility upon drafting Antetokounmpo, as Ford notes, is allowing him to develop in the NBA D-League.
Ford seems to believe Antetokounmpo's likely lottery-pick level salary will make him too pricey of a player to stash in the minors, but such a concept isn't unheard of.
In fact, just this past season, the Oklahoma City Thunder assigned last year's twelfth overall selection, Jeremy Lamb, to the Tulsa 66ers. The guard went on to appear in 21 NBADL contests, averaging 21 points (on 49% from the field and 35% from deep), 5.3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.2 steals.
Of course, Lamb was acquired by OKC from the Houston Rockets in the trade for James Harden. Coincidentally, the Thunder own yet another lottery selection in this year's draft, and playoff contenders like the Bucks, Celtics, and Bulls highlight other teams also in the top twenty.
With so many competitive teams owning higher picks in Thursday night's draft, it's possible other first rounders could find their to the D-League next season, whether it turns out to be Antetokounmpo or not.