Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s crazy to think in four NBA seasons, the raw prospect from Greece blistered into the game’s most promising star. His lanky frame has filled out to his new 7’0″ stature. His game is about as exciting as anyone’s in the league—the monster dunks, the freakishly long strides.
All of this made Giannis Antetokounmpo a household name in the United States. Of course, in his home country of Greece he was always the favorite. He is the golden child expected to lead the nation’s basketball program to new heights. He’s expected to pass the Nikos Galises, the Dimitris Diamantideses, the Vasselis Spanoulises. In terms of NBA success, he has already done so.
But beyond NBA greatness, there’s international success. For American-born players this might not seem like a huge deal. The USA has continued to dominate the international basketball circuit. But for foreign-born players, there seems to be a heated sense of pride to win FIBA tournaments, EuroBasket, Olympics, and similar international circuits that allow players to represent their home countries.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may even have the best shot to compete with his USA counterparts come next Olympics. But he’ll need help from his family.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the oldest brother, has insane athletic ability. He stands at 6’7”, and is a pesky wing defender who can throw it down with the best of them. Like Giannis, Thanasis started his pro career with Filathlitikos. His D-League stint with the Delaware 87ers in the 2013 season caught the attention of NBA scouts earning himself a spot in the 2014 NBA Draft.
When the Knicks called his name with the 51st pick in the NBA Draft, it was two consecutive years that an Antetokounmpo’s name had been called. Thanasis failed to ever find a role in New York, bouncing up and down from the D-League. After recording six NBA points, he signed a deal with Andorra to play in Spain. He played well off the bench, becoming a defensive force.
As Thanasis tried to make a name for himself overseas, Giannis continued to explode through the NBA season, earning himself his first All-Star appearance. His Most Improved Player Award was further evidence to how quick his rise has been. Thanasis earned something recently as well—a two-year deal with Panathinaikos.
Returning to Greece will hopefully spark an outbreak in play for the 25-year-old. Playing with one of Europe’s elite squads next to some former NBA talent could show Thanasis’ skill along the wing. More importantly, it puts him closer to the national team staff.
Thanasis and Giannis entered the 2016 Olympic qualifiers looking to push the nation as the new faces of basketball. With their younger brother Kostas sitting on the bench, the brothers failed to get through the buzz saw in the form of Dario Saric and the Croatian national team. The Antetokounmpos were without experienced veterans like Spanoulis or Ioannis Bourousis, which should give Kostas even more hunger.
Kostas, the better shooter of the brothers, has yet to step foot on the court with Dayton after being redshirted his freshman year. He enters this upcoming season recovering from a knee injury, but looks to implement himself as a first-round draft prospect. Kostas’ style of game differs compared to his older brothers.
The almost-seven-footer is more of a shooter who likes to pass from the wing. He’s not as ball dominant as Giannis, and more versatile on offense than Thanasis. He’s actually the perfect complement to the two older ones. This should play well for them in EuroBasket 2017, as Greece looks to reclaim glory after a devastating knockout in last year’s Olympic qualifiers.
But first, Dayton will get a crack at the first Antetokounmpo brother to climb through the NCAA ranks. Kostas is in line to be a high lottery pick next draft if all goes as planned this season, and could be joining Giannis in the league sooner than later.
Lastly, there’s Alex. The lanky 15-year-old still must log a lot of basketball growing pains before we can pinpoint his dominance. But what we do know is he already has a 7’2″ wingspan, and full confidence from his older brother Giannis. The reigning All-Star claims his youngest brother will be better than him once he reaches the NBA.
Whether that occurs or not is still years down the line. For now, let’s appreciate the paths each brother took. Giannis exploded onto the scene as a promising lottery pick, and now has put himself among the game’s best. Thanasis entered the league by way of the formerly mentioned D-League, before finding himself back in Greece playing for Panathinaikos. Kostas is trying to reach the NBA with a family-first NCAA appearance. And Alex is trying to carve his own path to greatness.
For now and years to come, Giannis Antetokounmpo will stand as the most prominent basketball figure Greece has scene since Nikos Galis. But the overlooked stories of his three brothers have just as much importance. Thanasis may never reach the level of basketball he had hoped for, but he can bolster one of his home nation’s top clubs as a Euroleague powerhouse. Kostas will try to do what few Greeks before him have done, and that’s excel at the college level. Alex will try to grow into an even “freakier” version of Giannis.
When you sit back and look at the Antetokounmbros, you might think, How could they live up to the hype of Giannis? But that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about each individual brother. By next Olympics, we could literally see all four brothers represent their home nation. We could see the four brothers, who all took different paths in basketball, stand side-by-side, giving Greece the most talent they’ve ever seen.
The story may be Giannis right now. But the real story lies in the brothers as a whole. Each one is set to try to prove their true talent to the world this upcoming basketball season, each at different levels. So talk about Giannis, but don’t forget about the other Antetokounmpos.
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers
Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?
Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.
Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.
Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.
Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting.
These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA:
- 14.6 Points
- 7.6 Assists
- 6.0 Rebounds
- 1.8 Steals
- 0.8 Blocks
- 55.1 FG%
- 41.2 3P%
He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.
Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.
He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.
|2012||Damian Lillard (co-MVPs)||PG||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Josh Selby (co-MVPs)||PG||Memphis Grizzlies|
|2013||Jonas Valančiūnas||C||Toronto Raptors|
|2014||Glen Rice Jr.||SG||Washington Wizards|
|2015||Kyle Anderson||SF||San Antonio Spurs|
|2016||Tyus Jones||PG||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|2017||Lonzo Ball||PG||Los Angeles Lakers|
With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.
The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.
Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.
If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
Trading Places | The Break | Episode 18
February Fouls | The Break | Episode 16
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
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Something Out of Nothing
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Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers
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