A party has to end sometime, and this time around is the end of Thanasis Antetokounmpo’s membership in the yet-to-be eliminated section of the Milwaukee Bucks roster.
Originally drafted by the New York Knicks in 2014, Thanasis’ NBA career might have gone unnoticed, as he spent more years outside the NBA (three) than games he logged in the league (two). But after some success in Europe, Thanasis’ familial ties to another Milwaukee Buck brought him into the fold in 2019, in the form of a two-year minimum level contract. In fairness, he was able to exist on an NBA court, and his competence combined with the nepotism we’ve grown to love brings about an encore, extending Thanasis’ tenure in Milwaukee for a third year (with a player option next season!).
How he lasted this far in our roster-ranking exercise is a fair question, and the answer is somewhere along the same lines as how he got a roster spot in Milwaukee to begin with: we’re not really sure, he probably doesn’t have a strong case on merit to be here, but here he is anyway. Thanasis’ number one strength is his legitimately-impressive athleticism, and if he ever figures out how to harness that power and do something productive with it, he’ll immediately become a more valuable player.
He’s 29 years old, and something tells me that a late-career reinvention isn’t just around the corner.
Thanasis rarely plays like a man with a plan on the basketball court. In certain situations, his quick reactions can turn into exciting dunks or thrilling blocks, but more often than not possessions that involve Thanasis end up working out to the other team’s benefit. Maybe it’ll be a missed shot, or a turnover, or a blown rotation, or a foul. Actually, yeah, it’ll probably be a foul; Thanasis averaged 6.1 personal fouls per 100 possessions in the regular season, despite averaging less than 10 minutes per game. Thanasis can certainly play, he just hasn’t demonstrated the ability to produce against NBA competition.
Then again, Thanasty has an impact that goes far beyond the box score. He’s more than a benchwarmer; he’s a fan favorite because of his infectious energy and unbridled enthusiasm for...well, basically anything. He’s a one-man hype squad, on the floor or on the bench. I mean, who else can pull off this type of reaction in garbage time of a mid-February home game against the Kings?!
Does that matter in the postseason? Probably not! But he does have a special connection with Giannis (obviously, they’re brothers), and that kind of built-in support simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. It helped secure Giannis on his supermax extension, so that by itself is worth a few playoff wins.
Looking ahead, we’re moving out of the “benchwarmer” region and into the “reserve” area of the roster. This next group figures to have members both on the fringes of the rotation come postseason, as well as a place in the starting five. In fact, we re-expanded the field to include every guard and wing remaining that isn’t named Jrue or Khris, as this midsection of the roster should be where there’s the most debate.
Just remember: we’re looking for playoff viability here, not regular season rotation ability. So who’s your first one off the island? Will it be George Hill, the prodigal point guard? Will it (inexplicably) be Pat Connaughton, who played meaningful minutes in the NBA Finals? What about newcomers Rodney Hood or Semi Ojeleye, or the long-anticipated two competitors as the two-guard, Donte DiVincenzo or Grayson Allen? Vote below, the next few decisions won’t be as easy as the ones before!
11th: The Player Left That’s Least Important to Milwaukee’s Postseason Success is...
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This poll will close at 7:00am Central on Tuesday, September 14.