The Dallas Mavericks finished the 2018 NBA Draft by selecting Dayton forward Kostas Antetokounmpo with the 60th overall pick. Although Antetokounmpo wasn’t projected to get selected, it wasn’t surprising that he was drafted when looking back at the team’s recent history.
Just three years ago, Dallas selected Satnam Singh with the 52nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, with the intention of developing him with the Texas Legends. Although those plans never worked out as he got limited minutes with Texas and is now playing in India, the move showed that they’re willing to spend a late 2nd-round pick on a developmental project.
Antetokounmpo’s status as a G League project was further solidified on July 13, when the Mavericks announced that he signed a two-way contract. Antetokounmpo will have an opportunity to spend up to 45 days at the NBA level where he’ll receive a rookie minimum. Aside from those rare NBA opportunities, he’ll be in the G League playing with the Texas Legends. At that level, the young forward will be making $77,250 per year rather than the $35,000 that regular G Leaguers will receive in the upcoming season.
The prospect stands as the perfect type of player to receive a two-way deal because he’s a raw prospect with incredibly high upside. Standing at 6’11 with a 7’2 wingspan, he shines as a long and athletic player with quickness that provides the potential for him to become a great defender and a threat in transition. Such potential was evident during his lone season at Dayton, where he defended multiple positions and averaged 2.8 blocks per 40 minutes. His great work in transition was evident as he averaged 1.632 PPP (Points per Possession), according to Synergy Sports.
Aside from using his speed and athleticism to shine in transition, Antetokounmpo is incredibly raw on the offensive end. He lacked dribble moves to shine as a driver or the strength to body someone up in the low-post or capturing that offensive rebound. Similarly his big brothers, Antetokounmpo struggles as a perimeter shooter as he only hit 2 out of his 15 perimeter attempts. With those different moves set aside, the only real skill that he excelled at on offensive would be working as the roll man in PnR’s. He was great in that area as his speed and long frame allowed him to be a great target for any facilitator.
Antetokounmpo will have an amazing opportunity at his hands during the upcoming G League season. He’ll play with the Texas Legends, a team that’s currently led by veteran head coach Robert MacKinnon. Since he’s joined the team in 2016-17, five players on the Legends have received NBA call-ups (Manny Harris, Quincy Acy, Jameel Warney, CJ Williams and Kyle Collinsworth). He’s also helped push the development of two-way prospects Johnathan Motley and Wade Baldwin, who both impressed when they made it back to the NBA.
Among the prospects that have developed under MacKinnon, the progression of Jameel Warney might be the most applicable when it comes to Antetokounmpo. When Warney came to the Legends in 2016-17, he was essentially glued to the paint on either side as his quick feet and strong 255 pound frame allowed him to shine as a rim protector and offensive rebounder. However, with the combination of hard work and great coaching, he was able to become a more versatile offensive threat as he added facilitating and a perimeter jumper to his offensive arsenal That progression pushed Warney to be a candidate for G League MVP and spend some time with the Dallas Mavericks towards the end of the year.
If Antetokounmpo is willing to put in the work, there’s no reason why he can’t show that same kind of offensive development with the Legends. For one, the lanky forward will have an opportunity to both work on his game and build a more NBA-ready body at the Legends new state-of-the-art practice facility, Baylor Scott & White Sports Performance Center, which features all the amenities that any developing prospect may desire.
While raw, Antetokounmpo still has a bright future ahead of him and it looks like he will have ample opportunity to prove himself as he looks to follow in the footsteps of Giannis and Thanasis.