Welcome to the Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations! Similar to last year’s series, we’ll take a look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what do they do that helps (Boon), what do they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).
In his first year back in the NBA after several seasons of ball overseas, Thanasis Antetokounmpo has basically the season we all expected: a 15th man, bench enthusiast and garbage time usage gobbler. All the credit to him for doing what got him in the league: playing with unbridled energy.
Thanasis’s Boon: He’s Still Giannis’s Brother
Who will forget where they were during that historical flashpoint, and yes I’m talking about Greek night, when Bud rolled out the most memorable starting lineup of the season: Bledsoe-Matthews-Middleton-Thanasis-Giannis. Bud got the Antetokounbros on the floor together, and it actually started with an electric opening.
Χαρούμενη Ελληνική Βραδιά— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 1, 2020
HAPPY GREEK NIGHT!! pic.twitter.com/BehgRF8eZ3
Beyond that start, Thanasis was a bench player through and through. He played 129 minutes total this season, just 11 more than Frank Mason III for Milwaukee. Based on Cleaning The Glass, which removes garbage time, Thanasis played just 61 minutes of “meaningful” basketball this season. The man took advantage of every second he was on the court, boasting a 21.6% usage. For comparison, that’s just a shade lower than Eric Bledsoe’s season-long number of 23.7%. If there was a possession to be had, he got it.
Maybe that’s just a garbage time guy being thirsty, but it could also be an indication that his teammates really want him to get shots up in the limited time he’s out there. He seemed like a likable, enthusiastic personality, and if he keeps Giannis’s spirits up, then his presence was surely welcomed in the locker room all season. He’s certainly not playable, but he didn’t look as horrendous as I anticipated he would.
Thanasis’s Bane: Shooting
It was a tough 0-10 for him from behind the 3-point arc. His shooting motion, which came into the league basically broken, certainly hasn’t served him any better during his second stint in the league. Going 7-17 (41.2% at the free throw line) is all the indication we needed that his shot is entirely off target. Still, out of his 24 field goals this season, 11 of them were dunks. At least he knew where his bread was buttered.
Does Thanasis Belong?
On an NBA court during meaningful minutes? No. But, even as someone who only played garbage time outside of a surprise start this past season, he at least didn’t look like a complete scrub who shouldn’t even sniff the NBA court. His role with the Bucks is that of a Giannis support pillar, as well as a supportive teammate. There weren’t any stories that leaked out expressing disgust at Giannis getting his brother on the roster, so it seemed as if Thanasis melded well enough into the culture.
Would Horst have been better served by churning through 15th men, as the Bucks have done for years into the past? Perhaps. In that scenario, Dragan Bender might still be on the team rather than getting the boot to make room for Marvin Williams. But, Bender is back in Europe now anyway. Given Milwaukee hasn’t exactly showered itself in glory with that 15th spot the last few years, if Thanasis being here tips the scales in any way toward Giannis staying, that’s more than reason enough to keep him around. That’s been the argument of most Thansasis defenders from the start. Given the increasingly tenuous nature of the Bucks future after this playoff disappointment, they’ll take any advantage, however slight, they can get.