Kostas Antetokounmpo: Five things to know about Mavericks draft pick

June 22, 2018

Kostas Antetokounmpo has heard the word potential attached to his name for years. That comes with the territory when your brother is one of the best players in the world and you have similar height and wingspan.

“A lot of people tell me I have potential,” Antetokounmpo said last November after the second game of his short Dayton Flyers career, “but I have to keep working.”

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That was true then and true now. After being selected with the last pick of the 2018 NBA Draft — the Dallas Mavericks chose him with the 60th pick Thursday night — he’ll have to get to work to make it at the pro level.

Here are five things to know about Antetokounmpo as he chases that dream:

1. Special name: The Antetokounmpo family emigrated from Lagos, Nigeria, to Athens, Greece, in 1991. There are five brothers. Each received a Greek name and a Nigerian name from their parents, Veronica and Charles.

“My Nigerian name is Ndubuisi and it has a special meaning, but I can’t remember it right now,” Antetokounmpo said. “It has something to do, I believe, about a gift. Like a gift from God.”

2. Close bond: The five brothers are close and often use the hashtag “Antetokounbros” on social media.

Francis is the oldest and the only one born in Nigeria. Thanasis, 25, was drafted by the New York Knicks and now plays in Europe.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, 23, stars for the Milwaukee Bucks. Sports Illustrated ranked him the ninth-best player in the NBA in 2019.

Then there’s Kostas, 20, and Alex, a junior at Dominican High School in Milwaukee who received a scholarship offer from DePaul this spring.

When Kostas first enrolled at Dayton in 2016, it was Giannis who drove him to campus from Milwaukee.

“Giannis is really big on family,” Kostas said. “He takes us everywhere with him. They might say, ‘Oh no. You can’t really have your family here,’ and he says, ‘No, my brothers are coming with me.’ That’s how it was at the All-Star Game last year. He took us to press conferences, workouts, everything. I talk to each of my brothers two or three times a day. I call Thanasis and it might be 4 or 5 a.m. over there, but he never says, ‘Hey, I got to sleep.’ He talks to me about classes, the team, everything. And Giannis calls me all the time. We’re really close.”

3. Highlight machine: Antetokounmpo was inconsistent in his one season on the court in Dayton. His final numbers (5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game), didn’t stand out. Early in the season, he was on pace to challenge the school’s single-season blocks record. He finished with 31, the most on the team but far short of Steve McElvene’s mark of 55.

Even in games in which he made only one field goal — and there were 11 of those — he often made the most memorable play of the night.

In a Dec. 23 game against Wagner, Antetokounmpo grabbed an alley-oop pass from Jalen Crutcher high above the rim and slammed it through the hoop in the first half of a 79-67 victory. ESPN’s SportsCenter ranked it the No. 6 play of the day. It was the only shot taken by Antetokounmpo, who played 11 minutes.

4. Limited minutes: Antetokounmpo had a hard time staying on the court early in the season because of foul trouble. Giannis helped him improve in that area as the season progressed with a little advice.

“He said when I get my first foul I gotta lay low,” Antetokounpo said. “I got to play as hard as I can, but as clean as I can. He said, ‘Don’t get those fouls back to back to back.’”

5. Miller recruit: Antetokounmpo committed to Dayton three days after visiting campus in June of 2016. He was the 89th-ranked recruit in the nation that year and one of the top recruits in Archie Miller’s six seasons at Dayton.

“(Signing him) means a lot,” Miller said at the time. “As we’re recruiting, we’re trying to be as good as we can be. We’re trying to continue to sustain the great success. To do that, you need good players. Adding him gives us more credibility that this is a place where guys can see themselves being successful.”