Last season, Thanasis Antetokounmpo opted to venture down the road far less traveled by playing in the NBA D-League (instead of overseas or the NCAA) before gaining eligibility for the NBA Draft.
As fate would have it, such a strategy worked out in the long run. The young gun was drafted by the Knicks on Thursday night, selected 51st overall.
And although Antetokounmpo is expected to play for New York during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, there's no guarantee he'll don orange and blue next season, reports CBS Sports.
Instead, Antetokounmpo could end up hitting the hardwood in Greece. Having played for the Delaware 87ers last season, it's clear the swingman wasn't raking in the dough this year. That said, a major reason to play in the D-League is to gain the exposure necessary to eventually cash in on a contract in The Association.
As a second-round draft pick, Antetokounmpo's contract with the Knicks is not guaranteed. They'll need to formally sign him. But if the two sides cannot come to an agreement, New York will retain his draft rights as he seeks out an international contract.
Last season, the D-League was faced with an interesting predicament with one of its most talented prospects. Unable to come to a contract agreement with the Pelicans, 2013 second rounder Pierre Jackson was selected by the non-Pelicans affiliated Idaho Stampede. Though as he gained considered for an NBA call-up while stealing the show in the minor league, New Orleans remained the lone team able to call him up. This was undoubtedly a strange scenario as he played for a non-affiliated team in the meantime.
Next season, although NBA teams will continue to own such rights, said prospects will be mandated to play for the NBA team's minor league affiliate, should they actually opt to play in the D-League as opposed to overseas. This eliminates some confusion, and perhaps also increases the likelihood of a player getting called up. If an NBA teams knows such a player is developing within their respective system, chances are he'll be all the more prepared to contribute on the NBA level as well.
If Antetokounmpo has a chance of playing for the (New York) Knicks, it'd be smart for him to remain stateside. However, if that doesn't appear to be in the team's near future plans, perhaps it'd be better for him to play in Greece and earn more money than he'd make in Westchester.