New York Knicks should listen to the Greek Freak, call up his brother

Thanasis Antetokounmpo spent 2013-14 playing for the Delaware 87ers in the NBA D-League. (Screen capture from
Thanasis Antetokounmpo spent 2013-14 playing for the Delaware 87ers in the NBA D-League. (Screen capture from /

New York Knicks Rumors: Should the Knicks call up Thanasis Antetokounmpo from their D-League affliate, the Westchester Knicks?

The New York Knicks have been openly shopping Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, but as of right now, Phil Jackson hasn’t found the right move.

According to reports, if Jackson is unable to move Bargnani’s $11.5 million expiring contract, the Knicks could possibly waive Bargnani to open up a roster spot to work in some of the younger guys, call-up some players from the Knicks D-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, or sign some free agents to 10-day contracts.

While the talk of Bargnani getting waived is happening now, the Knicks have headed to London to take on the Milwaukee Bucks. One of the Milwaukee Bucks younger players has some advice for Jackson: call up his brother.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak, told Marc Berman of the New York Post that the Knicks should call up his brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who plays for Westchester.

"“He’s ready,” Antetokounmpo said at the Bucks practice Wednesday at O2 Arena. “I don’t think the Knicks have to lose anything. They lose 15 [straight] now. Tomorrow is going to be 16. They don’t have anything to lose. My brother could bring energy to the team and [is] hard-working, and guys from the team can see that and take something from him.’”"

And, you know what?

I agree with the Greek Freak!!!

Why adding Thanasis makes sense for the Knicks roster

Obviously, Giannis has a vested interest here; he’s trying to help his bro out and get him a spot in the league.

For the Knicks, though, it makes total sense. Thanasis, a super-athletic, 6-foot-7  small forward, with extremely long arms and impressive shot blocking skills, deserves a chance to see what he can do at the NBA level.

The Knicks need a boost on the wing after trading J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Tim Hardaway Jr. has been playing okay, but he’s a very one-dimensional this early in his career. Thanasis could add that extra dimension to the Knicks wing position.

Here’s what the Knicks small forward situation looks like right now:

1Carmelo Anthony3036.
7Tim Hardaway3922.93.910.0.386.3141.
14Cleanthony Early1314.
15Travis Wear3312.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/14/2015.

Tell me where Thanasis couldn’t fit into that group of players? Seriously, tell me… I’ll keep waiting…

Thanasis can also play the “small-ball 4,” as well.

What do the Knicks have to lose?

Like Giannis said, what else do the Knicks have to lose? The Knicks are 5-35 heading into the “London Classic” with the Bucks. Carmelo Anthony is going to be shut down after the All-Star game. The Knicks have a rare opportunity to get young players extra playing time for 40-plus games. That almost never happens in the NBA.

The Knicks have a veteran-laden roster, in terms of rebuilding. With Shane Larkin, Hardaway, Cleanthony Early, and Travis Wear as the only young players on the team, the Knicks need to get more young players time to develop.

Sure, the Knicks have $35 million cap space open this summer with Amar’e Stoudemire’s and Andrea Bargnani’s expiring contracts coming off the books (even if Bargnani is waived), but signing free agents is much more expensive– and costly– than developing young talent.

What does the other Greek Freak could bring to the Knicks?

Thanasis is averaging 13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and a team-high 1.6 blocks in the D-League.

Although it’s against D-League competition, Thanasis has been a spark plug for the Westchester Knicks. He’s an energy guy, who can impact the game with his athleticism and hustle.

On a nightly basis, that’s one of the key things the Knicks are missing. They’re one of the least athletic teams in the league, and the Knicks rarely make the hustle plays necessary to win those close games.

Thanasis is a little rough around the edges. In the D-League, he’s a 45 percent shooter and only a 23 percent 3-point shooter. As he plays more an adjusts to the American game, I think he’ll be more comfortable stepping into his jumper and knocking down outside shots. The form is there, but the consistency is not.

He’s far from a polished NBA prospect, but he’s only 22 years old, and he’s only going to get better.

The NBA is lacking quality wing players right now to stop the top-scorers in the league, guys like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Paul George, James Harden, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler. The Knicks have a guy, Thanasis, in their organization who can be that defender and hustle player if he’s given the right tools and mentoring to be a successful wing defender. Hopefully, the Knicks won’t mess this up like they normally do.

Ultimately, I don’t think Thanasis is going to be a star in the NBA, but he has all the skills necessary to be a good role player. I think he can be that guy for the Knicks if he’s given an opportunity.

(H/T SI)

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