Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 6-foot-7 small forward, Delaware 87ers
2013-14 stats: 12.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 47.0 FG%, 1.1 steals, 1.3 blocks
The older brother of Bucks rookie forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the defensive-minded wing from Greece made his presence felt in his rookie season in the D-League. An athletic, high-energy player, Antetokounmpo doesn’t have his brother’s upside, but he still has room to improve and there’s already a niche for his skill set at the next level. At 21 years old, his raw offensive game can still be worked with, so determining where Antetokounmpo’s ceiling is no easy task, especially with his unique background.
Career highlights: Although his brother gets more of the credit for their escape from poverty in Greece because of immense talent, the older Antetokounmpo is a prospect himself, one now more motivated by Giannis’ success in Milwaukee, just a few years after the pair were sunglasses on the streets of Athens to survive. Considering that he played in a second-division Greek professional league with little formidable competition, Antetokounmpo made a fairly seamless adjustment to the D-League, averaging a well-rounded 12 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 blocked shots and 1.2 steals per game. Some of the third team D-League all-defensive team selection’s better performances included a 14-point, 10-rebound, nine-assist outing and a 28-point, seven-assist effort in the season finale.
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Strengths: An intense, aggressive defender, Antetokounmpo can use his athleticism to make plays off the ball or focus in on his man as a stopper. Explosive athletically and strong physically, Antetokounmpo can score in transition, on the offensive glass and off broken plays, but he’s made strides in his ability to produce in half-court situations. Although he’s still raw, his combination of versatility and a high motor allows him to make plays for himself and others.
Weaknesses: A lack of polish is Antetokounmpo’s biggest issue, as he’s still very much a work in progress offensively, not being a proficient enough outside shooter or fluid enough with the ball in his hands to be a consistent scorer at this stage of his career. Experience is also a factor, as he was playing against far less competition not too long ago and is still adjusting to the American style of basketball. But overall, just ensuring that he isn’t an offensive liability is Antetokounmpo’s top priority, giving him more of a chance to affect contests defensively.
Draft projection: A second-round prospect, Antetokounmpo’s year in the D-League gave NBA personnel plenty of up close and personal looks at him last season, meaning they know the pros and cons to his game well by now. While he still needs further development, Antetokounmpo already has a niche in the league, as a high-energy defensive specialist, with some offensive potential. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his defensive prowess endear himself to coaches, leading to more playing time early in his career and eventually a long-term role as a stopper.