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The ABCs of Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Get to know more about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s older brother Thanasis, a 2014 NBA Draft prospect who spent the last season in the D-League.

Jessica Camerato

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Get to know Thanasis Antetokounmpo as he prepares for the 2014 NBA Draft. 

Thanasis Antetokounmpo is a 6-6  small forward projected to be selected in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft.

He played last season for the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League, averaging 12.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Athens, Greece is his home city.

No stranger to the NBA, he is the older brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. (Thanasis is 21 years old, two years older.)

At the Chicago Draft Combine he stressed the importance of hard work, noting “I try to be a reliable person.”

Setting his sights high, he measured a vertical of nearly 40 inches during the combine.

“I wasn’t disappointed, but I thought I could [leap] higher,” he said.

Soaring is part of his game. He appeared in the NBA D-League Slam Dunk Contest and jammed over 6-9 Giannis.

Accustomed to playing with his brother in Greece, he said it would “probably be a dream for my family” to see the siblings on the same NBA team.

Not to mention, it would ease the concerns of his mother. “My mom could come see us both in the same place,” he said. “She won’t have to call me and worry.”

This summer Thanasis is spending time in Washington, D.C. to prepare for the Draft.

Even though his brother was also playing in the United States last season, he didn’t make many trips to Milwaukee because of his own schedule.

The competition is different in the NBA than in Greece, and he wanted to assess how he fared. “When I used to play I was athletic and I was making a really big difference,” he said. “I really wanted to know if I could make the same difference here. I was seeing all the players and everyone is so athletic so I wanted to see if I could make the same impact with energy and hard work.”

Other differences for him have included learning new terminology.

Kobe Bryant is a player Thansis referenced when discussing the importance of always improving.

On the future Hall of Famer, he said, “If Kobe Bryant was here in this chair and you asked him, ‘What do you think you have to improve on?’ he would say, ‘I gotta work my shot I gotta work on everything,’ and he is one of five all-time players. I have to work everything and I have to work more than others.”

Undaunted by the long road of hard work that lies ahead, Thanasis takes a humble approach when it comes to what he believes it will take to make it in the NBA.

Never afraid to put in the extra effort, he said, “I have to work everything and I have to work more than others. I have two rules; wherever I go I’m the worst player. So if he works twice I’ve got to work four times. If he works four times, I’ve got to work eight because he is already better than me, he already here in the States and I just got here. I have to work better than him.”

Many people fuel Thanasis’ desire to succeed, as exhibited by this Instagram post.

Perhaps he will establish his own nickname in the NBA. For now, he goes by Greek Freak 2 or Greek Freak Part 2 in reference to his brother.

Only time will tell where Thanasis’ NBA career will take him. But for now, he’s getting ready to start the next chapter with a modest and dedicated approach that will drive him to keep pushing to succeed in the pros.

Jessica Camerato is a bilingual reporter who has been covering the NBA since 2006. She has also covered MLB, NHL and MLS. A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Jessica is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media.

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NBA Daily: Lessons From The 2018 NBA Draft

After a wild 2018 NBA Draft, here are four lessons and storylines worth watching over the next few years.

Ben Nadeau

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Now that the dust has settled on an unpredictable NBA Draft — what exactly have we learned? In amongst the unrelenting rumors, refused workouts and surprise reaches, there are a few key takeaways from Brooklyn. Of course, some of these are one-off instances, but others are definitely part of modern-day draft patterns. While draft night may sometimes seem like complete chaos or chance, each scenario on this rundown has been boiling over for weeks. Between passing on a talented prospect to letting an injured one slide, here are four important lessons from the 2018 NBA Draft.

Luka Dončić… Not The No. 1?

For months and months, it appeared as if Luka Dončić was poised to become the No. 1 overall pick in this draft. Even today, it’s hard to believe that somebody with Dončić’s age and resume wasn’t the top selection. In 2017-18 alone, the Slovenian took home EuroLeague MVP and Finals MVP plus ACB MVP, with championships in both leagues to boot — but here we are. Dončić averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 steals over just 25 minutes per game, quickly transforming into the most well-rounded overseas prospect of all-time. But as impressive as Dončić was throughout the spring, the potential ceilings of both DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III eventually won out.

At 7-foot-1, Ayton’s 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game were undeniably worthy of a top selection too, pairing well alongside Devin Booker and Josh Jackson for the foreseeable future. While the jury is still out on Bagley III — his defense needs some major fine-tuning — he won’t take key touches away from De’Aaron Fox either. More or less, nobody wants to be the organization to miss on such a franchise-altering pick. The Suns, Kings and even the Hawks may eventually regret passing on Dončić, but when general managers’ entire careers can depend on making the right choice at the right time, it’s not difficult to understand why the top of the draft unfolded as it did.

Playing Hard To Get Doesn’t Always Work Out…

As draft boards began to take shape, there was one particularly interesting situation sitting at No. 4 overall. Jaren Jackson Jr., solidly leading the second tier of prospects, was looking like a lock at the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick — but with one major caveat: Jackson Jr. reportedly didn’t work out or give his medical information to the franchise. After he was drafted, Jackson Jr. called those rumors “a tad out of context” — but, obviously, those are some massive red flags. Either way, Memphis went with their gut and selected the talented forward anyway.

But beyond all that, Memphis absolutely made the right move by sticking to their guns. Putting a modern three-point shooting, defensive-minded athlete next to Marc Gasol should prove to be an absolute nightmare for years to come. Naturally, Jackson Jr. will get plenty of easy looks from the stellar Mike Conley Jr. too — so if the draftee was once apprehensive, surely that will pass soon. Still, it reflects on a larger NBA pattern, wherein which prospective athletes sensibly look to mold their own path out of college. With players trying to control their draft narratives more than ever, it’s reassuring to see that some franchises will take their target first and then figure out the rest.

We may never know Jackson Jr.’s full thought process behind not working out for the Grizzlies, but there’s a great chance that the former Spartan was made for Memphis’ tough brand of basketball — and we should all be glad we’ll get to see it.

…But Injuries Will Lead To A Slide

Michael Porter Jr. — what a year for him, huh?

After missing out on much of his only collegiate season due to back surgery, Porter Jr. promised that he was feeling better than ever. But over the last month, scouts and front offices were treated to canceled workouts and hazy uncertainty. And, at the end of the day, it probably scared a handful of franchises away from the talented scorer. Just this week, the Kings heavily considered Porter Jr. at No. 2 overall — but even with that sudden unlikelihood passing by, few thought he’d drop out of the top ten altogether. Outside of the guaranteed money that Porter Jr. will miss out on, redshirting his rookie year may also be on the table as well.

The inherent upside with Porter Jr. is obvious, but — similarly to the Dončić issue — it’s tough to ask franchise officials to stake their livelihood on the prospect’s health. If Porter Jr.’s lingering issues stay with him and he never reaches his mountain of potential, that’s a tough pill to swallow. The 19-year-old would fall all the way down to No. 14, where the Denver Nuggets gladly scooped him up. During the combine in May, Porter Jr. called himself the best player in the draft — but it’s now up to him to prove them all wrong.

The Mysterious Men Nearly Miss Out

Let’s rewind to early April. Villanova had been just crowned NCAA champions for the second time in three years, the NBA playoffs were soundly on the horizon and mock drafts had begun to consistently pour out. Early on, there were two athletic big men that looked like shoo-ins as first-rounders: Robert Williams and Mitchell Robinson. Despite their undercooked skill-sets, both players pulled out of the combine and then waited for the hype to build — except, well, it didn’t. Williams, who was typically projected in the early teens, slipped out of the lottery entirely, only to be rescued by the Boston Celtics at No. 27. Williams is a booming, powerful prospect, but he could’ve really benefited from competing against the other top prospects in May.

Although he’s now landed in an ideal situation with Brad Stevens, Al Horford and a process-driven Celtics squad, Williams likely cost himself a whole load of money over the last 30-plus days as well.

In Robinson’s case, many believed his floor was the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25 — rumors swirling that the 7-foot-1 center even received a promise from the illustrious franchise. Instead, Robinson dropped to the New York Knicks at No. 36 overall. Robinson had originally committed to Western Kentucky in July of 2017 before dropping out to prepare for the draft. After skipping the combine last month, Robinson indeed exhibited the potential to be both a steady shot-blocker and three-point maker during his individual evaluations. But with little to go off of but high school highlight reels and small session workout tapes, he understandably fell.

Sometimes the hype is impossible to ignore, but not participating in the combine and staying as mysterious as possible hurt these ultra-talented prospects.

While the 2018 NBA Draft wasn’t quite the trade-heavy, drama-laden extravaganza much of the world expected, there are plenty of narratives to reflect upon. At the end of the day, the ink is barely dry on this year’s festivities and it’ll be some time before there’s any indication of these successes or failures. Still, there are lessons to be learned from every draft, workout or injury process and these are four conversations worth considering as the NBA quickly rolls into the summer league season.

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VIDEO: 2018 NBA Draft Winners

Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may have done better than expected.

Basketball Insiders

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Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may have done better than expected.

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Insiders Video

VIDEO: 2018 NBA Draft Losers

Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may not have done as well as expected.

Basketball Insiders

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Basketball Insiders Benny Nadeau and Moke Hamilton break down the 2018 NBA Draft, including the teams and players that may not have done as well as expected.

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