Why the Los Angeles Lakers Claimed Kostas Antetokounmpo

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 10: (L-R) Kostas Antetokounmpo, Alexis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo pose with the Best Male Athlete award during The 2019 ESPYs at Microsoft Theater on July 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

The Dallas Mavericks recently decided to put Kostas Antetokounmpo on the waiver wire, which led to the Los Angeles Lakers claiming the rights to the forward. Going into his second year in the association, Antetokounmpo is still a raw and unproven prospect that needs conditioning. As of now, it looks like the idea is to bring him along slowly with a two-way contract. But there are other reasons the former Dayton forward is going to wear purple and gold.

Why Kostas Antetokounmpo is a Los Angeles Laker

Defensive Potential

Antetokounmpo has a wingspan of over seven feet with a towering height of 6’11. The Philadelphia 76ers selected him 60th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, but he was redirected to the Dallas Mavericks later in the evening.

The majority of Antetokounmpo’s minutes were with the Texas Legends for the 2018-19 season. He averaged 1.4 blocks per game and 10.6 points in 40 games played in the G-League. Once developed, rebounding will be a significant strength, but Antetokounmpo will need to add muscle to be a serious contributor if he plans on having an NBA future.

Low-Risk High Reward

Two-way contracts are relatively new in the NBA. These contracts give the ability for the Lakers to develop players like Antetokounmpo without risking losing them in the G-League. The majority of minutes that will be played by Antetokounmpo will be with the South Bay Lakers.

The tall and athletic forward is going to need to develop the ability to play center full time in the NBA-which means packing on weight and muscle. At this point in his young career, Antetokounmpo is nowhere near NBA ready and will need to work on his basketball I.Q., as displayed through his recent summer league performance with the Dallas Mavericks.

The Recruitment Process Begins Early

Free agency in 2021 is setting up to be one of the best classes in a long time for the NBA. A few star players of the class that qualifies as an unrestricted free agent are C.J. McCollum, Rudy Gobert, and Bradley Beal. But the player everyone is clamoring for is, of course, Kostas Antetokounmpo’s brother Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is eligible for the largest contract in NBA history in the summer of 2020. If he chooses to re-sign with the Milwaukee Bucks, the total amount will be around $247 million.

The Lakers will have plenty of room to offer a max contract to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bringing Kostas Antetokounmpo¬†to the Lakers organization gives them the ability to “develop a relationship” with Giannis Antetokounmpo¬†through his brother. The two-way pickup gives Los Angeles the means to tamper subliminally with the defending MVP.

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