Editor’s Note: welcome to our series “Lakers 2020 Season Review”, where we’ll come back to each member of this Lakers roster at the start of the offseason, and answer a few questions about what they contributed (or not) to the team’s 17th championship, as well as how their situation. . Today let’s talk Kostas Antetokounmpo.
How did he play?
In the playoffs, he didn’t. Neither Antetokounmpo – nor Devontae Cacok, the other Lakers player on a two-way contract – have played a single second in the playoffs. It wasn’t much different from the regular season, which saw Antetokounmpo play just 20 minutes in total, less than any Laker other than Cacok (9) and the already-waived Zach Norvell Jr. (5). In a veteran-heavy team with plenty of great men already, there was simply no room for the second 22-year-old in the rotation this season.
As a result, Antetokounmpo has spent most of his season trying to develop in the G League. Our own Christian Rivas summed up his disappointing season this way:
In 38 appearances for Lakers League G affiliate South Bay Lakers, Kostas averaged 14.1 points on 62.3% shots from the field, in addition to 7.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, while recording an average of 25.4 minutes per game. On the surface it doesn’t seem like bad numbers, but it doesn’t take much digging to see that Kostas struggled to be a hard-hitting player even at G League level.
Despite 62.3% shooting from the field, Kostas posted an offensive rating of 109, which can be largely attributed to being a poor shooter. Of the 324 field goals Kostas have attempted this season, only 42 of them have come from outside the paint. On 3-point attempts Kostas shot 6-39 (15.4%) from the field, and on midrange attempts he shot 0-3.
Kostas can still be a valuable player without a 3-point shot, but he would have to be elite on the other end to do so. While he has all the physical tools to be an elite talent on the defensive side, the fundamentals are not there and as a result, he posted a defensive rating of 114.4 for an overall net rating of -5, 4. Again, don’t dig too deep.
None of this is great, but it wasn’t completely unexpected for a tall, young, raw man either. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said during the bubble ranking round that he still sees enough in League G and in practice to be optimistic about Antetokounmpo’s potential.
“Kostas has incredible length and has shown promise as an elite rim protector,” Vogel said in July. “(He) can fit in perfectly with JaVale and Dwight and the length that we present in the basket. These two guys (Cacok and Antetokounmpo) have a bright future and I would be confident using them if we needed to.
The Lakers clearly never felt the need to do so.
What is his contractual situation in the future?
The Lakers have claimed Antetokounmpo’s two-way contract out of waivers during the 2019 offseason. His deal has expired, but the Lakers can make him a restricted free agent by submitting a qualifying offer, which Antetokounmpo says – due to the fact that he only has one year of service with the Lakers – would be another two-way contract with $ 50,000 in guaranteed money. .
It’s unclear when they should do it from here, as a date for free agency and its related processes has yet to be set.
Will he be back?
NBA teams may only have two players on two-way contracts at any given time, but even with Antetokounmpo’s somewhat disappointing and infrequent play last season, it would still be surprising if the Lakers didn’t use not (at least) one of their two. way again deals on him.
Why? Because of his brother.
There’s a reason The Athletic’s Shams Charania says “an antenna circled the league” when the Lakers claimed Kostas: because his brother, Giannis, is the reigning league MVP. twice and may be a free agent in 2021, which just happens to be the offseason where most of the Lakers’ current contracts end, at least theoretically leaving them on the hunt for the superstar as they potentially look to revamp around Anthony Davis.
Now the Lakers have tried on several occasions to make it clear that they love Kostas on his own merits, but even if it’s true, it sure doesn’t hurt that he could possibly serve as an emissary to tell Giannis how nice it is to be. a Laker. And as often as Giannis has said he doesn’t want to play in Los Angeles, it’s not like another year behind in Milwaukee can’t change that. If so, don’t you think the Lakers want Kostas to say how much their organization treats their players and how great it is to live in the South Bay?
That’s why the NBA is watching the Lakers closely, even then hitting the president of basketball operations Magic Johnson with a forgery fine for saying Giannis would win a title. in Milwaukee. But there is nothing the NBA can do to get the Lakers to sign another player. It worked with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who gave them a deal with Klutch Sports and LeBron James, and we saw how it worked. You might as well keep performing the same action straight from Rob Pelinka’s playbook and keep a different Ambassador with a K name, especially if it doesn’t cost a lot to do so.
This is why the purple and gold loyalists are going to keep going crazy when Giannis mentions hypothetically playing LA with his brothers, or when his girlfriend reveals she was a Lakers fan growing up. Even if Kostas doesn’t show up on the pitch, getting him back on the roster could be huge.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast on itunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.