The Los Angeles Lakers have signed former Dayton forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, the last pick in the 2018 NBA draft, to a two-way deal.
After one season with the Dallas Mavericks, the 21-year-old was waived by his first professional team in the United States and claimed by Los Angeles. He is mostly known for his defensive presence due to his wingspan (7’2.25″) and standing reach (9’2″) recorded at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine.
He led the Mavericks in blocks per game and the second-most steals per game on his squad during 2018 summer league. As noted by Jonathan Wasserman, he led Dayton in defensive plus-minus but actually ranked last on his squad among rotation players on his squad in offensive plus-minus (via Bleacher Report):
“He can pick up easy baskets in the open floor with his long strides and ability to play above the rim. Once the game slows down, however, he doesn’t offer much at this stage.”
Wasserman is correct in that Antetokounmpo was 13-for-14 (92.9 percent) from the field when finishing attempts in a transition offense during his sole collegiate season. He averaged 1.63 points per possession on this play type, per Synergy Sports, which put him in the 99th percentile among all NCAA players. Roughly half of those looks were wing finishes on the right side of the court.
Unfortunately, he does not have the foot speed to beat defenders even when he is running without the ball. Among all participants in the 2018 combine, his lane agility time (12.48 seconds) ranked third-worst while his shuttle run (3.48 seconds) ranked second-worst.
But his assist rate (17.4 percent) was significantly better while in transition than when he operated in half-court sets (5.6 percent) while at Dayton.
Even when including passes, though, Antetokounmpo finished just 12.5 percent of his offensive possessions in transition. This infrequency speaks to this being an occasional tool he was able to flash rather than something that he can rely on at an NBA level.
Antetokounmpo otherwise found success when posting up against smaller defenders, shooting 9-for-14 (64.3 percent) on these attempts. That ranked just outside the Top 10 among all D1 players with as many opportunities. Among the 621 players with the same above qualifications, however, only seventeen turned the ball over more frequently than he did.
He was not a usable option on pick-and-pop attempts due to a very inefficient jump shot. But in the few instances that he rolled to the basket, he was nearly impossible to contain. That is arguably the most elite trait he can bring to the NBA, where most of his looks will be from within a few feet of the rim.
That translated to success in the G League, too, where he was 117-for-173 (67.6 percent) in the restricted area for the Texas Legends. When in the G League, more than four out of every five field goals that he made were either dunks or layups.
His three-pointer did not improve much, connecting on just 0.3 per game for the Legends. He is not able to create his own shot considering all ten of his baskets from beyond the arc were assisted. Even though these looks were not going in during 2019 summer league, he showed an increasing willingness to take them as they accounted for nearly 40 percent of his field-goal attempts.
While on a two-way deal with the Lakers, overall, Antetokounmpo projects as a prospect with some potential but not much immediate upside.