Observing Alex Antetokounmpo
July 29th, 2021
By Alan Lu
Recently, Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo helped lead his team to win the 2021 NBA Finals and the NBA championship over the Phoenix Suns in 6 games. His older brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo also played on the Bucks this year, and his younger brother, Kostas Antetokounmpo won an NBA championship with LeBron’s 2020 Los Angeles Lakers’ team last year.
Giannis also has another younger brother, UCAM Murcia B’s 6-7 forward, Alex Antetokounmpo, who may be in the 2021 NBA Draft. He’s worked out for three NBA teams, including with the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, July 27th. After playing high school in the United States for Dominican High in Wisconsin, Alex Antetokounmpo played in Spain’s fourth division, the EBA. He also played for a female head coach, Carmen Puigcerver this year.
There’s been some conflicting information about if Alex Antetokounmpo is in the draft or not, but since he’s worked out for NBA teams as recent as this past Tuesday with fellow 2021 NBA Draft entrant JaQuori McLaughlin, it seems that Alex Antetokounmpo is in. Therefore, I decided to take the time to watch him play in a November 29th, 2020 EBA basketball game against Ontinent, with thanks to YouTube via Ajuntament d’Ontinyent. Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may stack up as a prospect for the NBA.
What stands out about Alex Antetokounmpo is that he is a gifted athlete that really excels at making plays on fast breaks. He ran the floor hard to get the ball, and he was able to pivot and draw free throws on a play where he should’ve been given credit for the score and the continuation. He also dribbled really fast up the floor off of a defensive rebound, and he drove in quickly to score on a thunderous dunk on the break. He also was able to score on a tip-in after grabbing an offensive rebound. He also would look to score on backdoor cuts, but after catching a high pass after running off of an off-ball screen on a cut, he dribbled in but missed on a contested leaner.
He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble. Early on, Antetokounmpo showed a solid first step, and he scored on a quick, powerful straight-line drive right to the hoop. He struggled more against help defense, and there was one play where he used dribble moves and tried to force up a tough shot that led him to miss in traffic.
He also struggled to knock down outside shots. On one good play, Antetokounmpo ran off the ball to make a quick, open spot-up three off the catch. On the downside, he often was unable to make threes either off the catch or dribble. While he used a creative behind-the-back dribble move and a pump fake to take a pull-up, mid-range stepthrough leaner, he ended up missing the shot, though he was able to instantly follow it up by scoring on a tip-in afterwards.
Also, Antetokounmpo displayed solid playmaking skills. He handles the ball well on fast breaks, and he also changes directions well when doing so. He also showed good court vision to rack up a pair of assists in this game. He lead the break after helping his team get a steal, and he then used a crafty, behind-the-back dribble move and behind-the-back interior pass to set up a score for a teammate ahead in transition. He also drove in and made a nice drop off pass to find a teammate at the rim another time. On the downside, he can sometimes struggle to make decisions in the half court. On one speedy baseline drive, another defender roamed to help, and Antetokounmpo was about to shoot the ball but came down with the ball instead, as he committed an up and down violation that time. Antetokounmpo also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He is a very athletic, high motor forward that did a very good job of hauling in boards, and he would often push the ball quickly up the floor after helping his team get defensive rebounds.
He also played satisfactory defense in this game. He is an active, help defender that can cover plenty of ground defensively. Antetokounmpo was able to run back as he leapt up to intercept a long pass, but appeared to be called for stepping out of bounds that time. He didn’t quite get the steal that time, but he was able to make a good play on the ball, nonetheless. He also ran down a loose ball that his teammate poked away to help his team get a steal another time. He also was able to contest a turnaround jumper in the post to force a miss due to possessing solid length and athleticism. He also would quickly hedge out onto pick and roll ball handlers, and he showed the ability to quickly get back to the roll man. He also showed solid feet to press and guard opposing ball handlers to cut off penetration when they look to drive to the hoop.
On the other hand, sometimes he would hedge out too far onto the pick and roll ball handler, and he would be unable to rotate back to the roll man at times, which would lead his team to allow scores. Another time, he rotated hard onto the pick and roll ball handler, but was too aggressive on the rotation, as he was called for fouling the opponent by bumping him. He did have times where he would over-rotate, but he would also still try to close out on shooters to get them to miss shots.
Overall, Alex Antetokounmpo is a very athletic, high-motor forward that could be an interesting draft candidate if he is in the 2021 NBA Draft. Most of the indications seem to be that he is indeed so. He is a big-time athlete that thrives at scoring in transition, and he has shown flashes of his playmaking and defensive potential. On the other hand, he really needs to improve his outside shot, and he tended to struggle more to operate in the half court. He also tended to gamble quite a bit defensively, as he would sometimes help his team force turnovers, and he would also be wildly out of position other times. Currently, he would be a very intriguing draft and stash candidate in the mid to late second round of this draft, and he could be a solid role player similar to Oklahoma City Thunder’s forward, Isaiah Roby in the NBA.