Checking in on South Bay: Kostas Antetokounmpo

(Image/Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

One of the Los Angeles Lakers’ two-way players this season, is Kostas Antetokounmpo. The surname is recognised worldwide, for obvious reasons. But Kostas’ talent, upon signing with the purple and gold, was relatively unknown.

Due to the Lakers’ deep veteran roster, Antetokounmpo, alongside fellow two-way player, Devontae Cacok, have had limited looks in the NBA thus far. Instead, developing their craft in the G League, with the South Bay Lakers.

Antetokounmpo has been called-up and featured in 3 NBA contests this season. With his debut coming against the Utah Jazz back in October. Followed by an appearance against the Charlotte Hornets, just 2 days later. His most recent playing time for the Lakers came against his former team, the Dallas Mavericks, in January.

In those 3 games, he’s only played in late-game situations. Averaging just 1.7 minutes per contest. He’s yet to record an NBA point for the Lakers. He was set to most likely to receive more playing time towards the end of this season, but the suspension stopped that. For the time being anyway.

Let’s continue and dig into Antetokounmpo’s progression in the G League throughout the 2019/20 campaign. Where he averaged 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.3 blocks. All through 38 games (25 MPG).

Select the link below to navigate through the pages to see Kostas Antetokounmpo’s progress this season.

NEXT: Antetokounmpo’s Consistent G League Season

3 Superstars the Los Angeles Lakers Could Target Post-LeBron James

(Image/AFP Photo/Sean M. Haffey)

With the Los Angeles Lakers missing out on their main target in superstar forward Kawhi Leonard this past summer, attention must now switch to free agency 2021. Who will the purple and gold target?

With the summer of 2019 finished, the Lakers will look back at the period as somewhat bittersweet. While the Lakers were able to fill the roster with quality depth and solid starting-caliber players to join superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it will also be remembered as the summer in which they missed out on current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, to cross-city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

The purple and gold have moved on and started the season strongly, however, a plan must be put in place for the future. While 2021 is 2-years away, it is set to be potentially just as talent-filled as this past action-packed free agency was.

Even though we all hate to admit it, LeBron James’ career is closer to the end then it is to the beginning, and the Lakers desperately need to have provisions in place for when he decides to call it a day.

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With James having a player option in the summer of 2021, it isn’t entirely unlikely that he decides to finish his career back in Cleveland again where it all began. I also wouldn’t rule out him taking a major pay cut to help his team add a 3rd superstar, but let’s go under the assumption that he leaves the Lakers in 2021.

While the Lakers may be in good hands with Anthony Davis on the roster (who is expected to sign long-term), they will need to create a team capable of not only helping LeBron James short term but also help Davis win and become sustainable post-James.

While there will be a lot of talent available in 2021, but there may be only a select few who will be capable of pushing the Lakers over the top to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.

There are players like Kawhi Leonard, Paul GeorgeRudy Gobert and DeMar DeRozan available, but the likes of Leonard and George will more than likely not be options after recently signing with the Clippers. Gobert and Davis do to similar jobs on defense, and DeRozan would be an option at the right price but his terrible 3-point shooting this season leaves cause for concern.

Here are 3 players who will be available in free agency in 2021, who could join Anthony Davis, and make a large impact.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo

If you’re going to go after a superstar, you might as well go for the reigning MVP, the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Not since the days of Shaquille O’Neal and prime LeBron James, has the NBA had a more physically dominant player than Antetokounmpo.

With his eye-popping length, his otherworldly athleticism, and his ability to play positions 1 through 5, makes him one of the most unique players in NBA history.

What truly sets Antetokounmpo apart from nearly the entire league is his ability to be elite on both ends of the floor. Don’t dare try and go to the rim when the Greek Freak is in the paint otherwise he is swatting your shot into the stands. Now try and beat him on the perimeter, he is either going to strip the ball, get into your chest, alter your shot, or lull you into the paint only to embarrass you.

His ability to do that makes him a great defender, his ability to do that at every position makes him the elite of the elite. Even though Rudy Gobert won the Defensive Player of the Year this year, I don’t think many people would have raised an eyebrow had Giannis Antetokounmpo won.

On the other side of the ball, Antetokounmpo will physically bully you into submission, while he may not have a consistent 3-point game, he hasn’t needed it so far in his career as he has no problem getting to the rim at will.

If he was to become a knockdown 3-point shooter, then we might be witnessing the dawn of potentially one of the greatest players to ever play the game. While he has a lot left to prove before getting to that stage, he is well on his way to true greatness.

Securing Antetokounmpo alongside Anthony Davis would give the Lakers two of the best and most physically dominant players in the NBA. It would be the ideal time for Davis and Antetokounmpo to take the mantle and push the Lakers forward for years to come.

The purple and gold have laid the groundwork with the hiring of Jason Kidd and the signing his younger brother Kostas Antetokounmpo to a two-way deal. They have 2-years to prepare for Giannis, they better get started on their pitch

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Bradley Beal

While Bradley Beal has signed a 2-year, $72 million extension with the Washington Wizards to secure the bag, let’s not completely rule him out of moving elsewhere as the Wizards don’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry.

While the Lakers were able to address the 3-point issues at the Shooting Suard position this off-season by adding Danny Green, it may only be a short term solution to a problem the team have had for many years. While Green is a sharpshooter and an excellent defender, he is also 32-years of age and has never been known to be a high volume scorer with a career average of 9 points per game.

While I truly believe that Green will have a career year with the purple and gold, the Lakers must have a close eye on the future, so by the time Green’s contract is finished, they have a replacement capable of filling in for him who will be able to score at a high clip each game also.

If you are looking for a Shooting Guard, who will get you 20+ points per game, who can shoot the lights out from anywhere on the floor, and has a career 3-point average of 38.4%, then Bradley Beal is your man. In the absence of All-Star point guard John Wall, Beal has stepped up in a big way and became the leader of the Washington Wizards and over the last two seasons has been an All-Star.

The Lakers could desperately use Beal’s shooting abilities as they haven’t had a consistent knockdown shooter since Kobe Bryant retired. Adding Beal would not only help out the team enormously but I think Beal himself would benefit greatly from the gravity in which LeBron James and Anthony Davis would demand.

Davis will require double teams nearly every time he touches the ball, if you disrespect him by man-marking him, then he is going to dominate his man and get an easy bucket. Beal would be the recipient of countless wide-open shots due to this. Beal would also be a huge part of the offense, being able to facilitate, as well as score.

While Beal signed an extension this season, it wouldn’t shock me if he looked to move elsewhere as the Wizards have had an abysmal Front Office for many years. Also with promoting Tommy Sheppard to General Manager shows that they are struggling to attract any top-level executives. Having Beal on the Lakers would set the franchise up perfectly for numerous title runs moving forward.

Having to trade for Bradley Beal does come with its setbacks, and may cost them a player like Kyle Kuzma, but he is a player who could be worth it, and could have a massive impact on the Lakers long term.

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Victor Oladipo

A player that has impressed the hell out of me in the last number of years, is Victor Oladipo. He has shown that he is a superstar in this league. Ever since his move to the Indiana Pacers, Oladipo has shown enormous potential on both sides of the ball.

While playing beside Russell Westbrook whilst on the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oladipo was relegated to a catch-and-shoot role and was always waiting on Westbrook to get his shot off and if that wasn’t open, Oladipo would be getting his shots.

As soon as he made the move to the Pacers, he was finally able to become the player he always knew he could be. Whether he is torching you with his speed and ability to get to the rim, he is pulling up from the 3-point line. Oladipo has an extremely well-rounded game that led to him being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2018.

While he is currently dealing with a knee injury, he is expected to make a full recovery and will be highly sought after in the summer of 2021. He would certainly offer a long-term solution for the Lakers at Shooting Guard position. His ability to shoot, and to facilitate, would take some of the pressure off Anthony Davis, and would allow for a top-notch secondary scorer.

A Davis and Oladipo pairing would be very hard to stop, and if you add top-notch depth to that roster, rather than chasing a 3rd superstar, then the Lakers would be capable of competing at the very top of the NBA for many years to come.

The Lakers’ job between now and then is to show these potential free agents that they are capable of competing for championships. If they can make some deep playoffs runs then the likelihood of landing the big fish the future increases.

The pressure is on over the next two seasons to put their best foot forward. Here is hoping that happens.

By Jonathan Kiernan (@JonathanKNBA)


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The Lakers Sign Antetokounmpo

(Image/USA Today Sports)

On July 21, Shams Charania of The Athletic dropped the huge news that the Los Angeles Lakers are set to sign Antetokounmpo. Kostas Antetokounmpo that is. Brother of current MVP, Giannis. The Lakers confirmed the acquisition on July 22.

The 21-year-old forward was claimed off waivers, following his release from the Dallas Mavericks. Antetokounmpo will sign a two-way deal with the purple and gold, splitting his time between the NBA and the G-League, with the South Bay Lakers.

He will be the Lakers’ second player signed to a two-way contract, along with Zach Norvell Jr. Players on such contracts can be called up to the NBA for up to 45 days during the season.

Kostas Antetokounmpo was born on November 20, 1997, in Athens, Greece. He is the younger brother of Giannis and Thanasis, who both play in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks. Growing up, Antetokounmpo was developed by the youth teams of the Greek professional basketball club, EFAO Zografou, formally known as Filathlitikos.

Upon his older brother, Giannis, getting drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013, Antetokounmpo moved to Milwaukee with his parents and younger brother, Alexis. He played high school basketball during his junior and senior years at Dominican High School in Wisconsin. As a senior, he won a state championship.

From here, he committed to play college basketball at the University of Dayton. In his first season (2016/17), he was red-shirted due to being ruled a “partial qualifier”. This was because he spent his first two years of high school in Greece.

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Eventually making his debut in the 2017/18 season, the 6-foot-10 forward averaged 5.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 21 minutes for the Dayton Flyers.

On March 22, 2018, Antetokounmpo declared for the 2018 NBA Draft, where he was selected with the final pick by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks instantly. He later signed a two-way contract with the Mavericks, however he only went onto feature in two NBA games in the 2018/19 season.

Instead, he spent the majority of his time in the NBA G-League for the Texas Legends. Antetokounmpo played in 40 games throughout the 2018/19 campaign, averaging 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1.3 blocks, on .522% shooting. He did feature for the Mavericks’ 2019 Summer League team, posting averages of 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds, in 13 minutes. Following Summer League, he was waived by the team. Which led to the Lakers claiming him off waivers.

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Standing at 6-foot-10, Kostas Antetokounmpo is a long, athletic forward who’s main strength is getting to and finishing at the rim. With an incredible 7-foot-2 wingspan, his length makes it difficult for his opponents to contest in the paint. Even more so if he can add muscle to his 195-pound frame.

He is a solid rebounder that can cause havoc when crashing the offensive glass. Additionally, he can operate effectively off-the-ball cutting to the rim. Antetokounmpo does possess the ability to be a versatile threat, as he can operate as a ball handler on the perimeter also.

Much like his brother Giannis, Kostas does not provide much of a threat from an outside shooting standpoint. In college, he shot at a dismal .133% from beyond the arc. This improved in the G-League last season, but he still converted at a considerably poor .244% rate.

He does impact the defensive end positively, where he is considered a prolific shot blocker. When he is quick off his feet, not much gets past him in the around the rim. His impressive footwork makes him a competent defender on the perimeter too. However, with his slim frame, Antetokounmpo does struggle on the receiving end of a post up.

Overall, Kostas Antetokounmpo is a raw talent, and whilst he is far from the finished product, his potential is intriguing. If he can grow into and control his frame, his height and length will make him difficult to deal with on both ends of the ball. There is certainly long-term potential to be had.

From the Lakers’ perspective, what’s the harm in giving a 21-year-old with high-upside a chance on a two-way deal? There’s no harm at all. Plus, it starts to create a relationship with the Antetokounmpo family ahead of 2021, when Giannis hits free agency.

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)