Bucks

Thanasty Thoughts on Thanasis

Evaluating the Future of Thanasis Antetokounmpo

 

As the dust settles from the free agency frenzy, one highly conspicuous free agent remains unsigned, Thanasis Antetokounmpo.  Since joining his superstar younger brother in 2019, Thanasis quickly became a fan favorite among the Milwaukee faithful.  Despite this, the rumor mill is deathly silent about where he stands in free agency.  The fact that Thanasis has not re-signed with the Bucks (or joined another team) raises several questions about his future.

Raw Stats

From a sheer basketball perspective, it’s difficult to justify re-signing Thanasis.  In the 2020-21 season, he averaged 9.7 minutes, 2.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.8 assists with a 48.0 FG% and a 24.1 3pt%.  With Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, and Semi Ojeleye, the Bucks have significantly better options available on their bench.  Last season, his role mostly involved protecting other players from potential foul trouble in the first half.

This is not to say that Thanasis is dead weight.  The elder Antetokounmpo is more than capable of delivering clutch plays.  A perfect example of this occurred during the Conference Semi-Finals against the Brooklyn Nets.

Despite this, it’s difficult to justify giving Thanasis more minutes when Portis, Connaughton, and potentially Ojeleye bring more to the table overall.  Thanasis’ highlight plays are certainly fun to watch, but he will only see significant minutes during garbage time against weaker opponents.

Beyond the Numbers

Whenever Thanasis enters the game, Bucks fans can always be certain he’ll bring energy, effort, and physicality.  “Thanasty” never takes nights off.  On several occasions, the elder Antetokounmpo would help jumpstart his teammates when they seemed a step slow.  The Bucks have no shortage of passionate, high energy players, but none of them compare to Thanasis.

Having a player on the bench that energizes his teammates is invaluable.  Nobody in the Bucks’ organization knows Giannis like his brother.  Having Thanasis as his hype man on the bench helps bring out the best in Giannis, which only makes the team better.

The players are not the only ones Thanasis helps energize.  As we saw in the video above, the crowd loves Thanasty’s enthusiasm.  The Bucks’ players regularly comment on the energy they draw from the crowd at Fiserv Forum, and Thanasis is great at firing up fans.

Milwaukee Bucks reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, right, has been placed in Covid-19 protocols and will not join his younger brother Giannis, left, in game five of the NBA Finals on Saturday at Phoenix
ELSA GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Verdict

Although Thanasis doesn’t provide the Bucks much in terms of stats, his energy alone makes it difficult to justify not signing him to a veteran minimum contract.  There is more to basketball than raw numbers and the elder Antetokoumpo is living proof of that.  The Bucks are a better team with him on the roster.

This begs the question, why haven’t the Bucks re-signed Thanasis?  There are a number of potential answers.  It’s possible ownership is concerned about the luxury tax bill like they were with PJ Tucker.  Although letting ]him go would lower the bill, a vet minimum contract would have little impact overall.

Another possible explanation is the Bucks have an offer ready for Thanasis, but he’s testing the market himself.  Thanasis was a star in his native Greece before he came to America and joined the NBA.  It’s likely he could make more money with significantly more minutes back home or elsewhere.  Since being released by the Lakers, Kostas Antetokoumpo joined ASVEL Basket in France.  It’s very possible Thanasis will make a similar move.

Ultimately, if the Bucks do re-sign Thanasis, it will likely happen during the season.  One would likely be hard pressed to find a Bucks player or fan that doesn’t want to see him come back next season.  Although there are few good reasons not to offer him a vet minimum contract, players want to play and Thanasis is no exception.  It might be best for Thanasis to explore other options before continuing to ride the bench in Milwaukee as he enters his 30s.

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