Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s crazy to think in four NBA seasons, the raw prospect from Greece blistered into the game’s most promising star. His lanky frame has filled out to his new 7’0″ stature. His game is about as exciting as anyone’s in the league—the monster dunks, the freakishly long strides.
All of this made Giannis Antetokounmpo a household name in the United States. Of course, in his home country of Greece he was always the favorite. He is the golden child expected to lead the nation’s basketball program to new heights. He’s expected to pass the Nikos Galises, the Dimitris Diamantideses, the Vasselis Spanoulises. In terms of NBA success, he has already done so.
But beyond NBA greatness, there’s international success. For American-born players this might not seem like a huge deal. The USA has continued to dominate the international basketball circuit. But for foreign-born players, there seems to be a heated sense of pride to win FIBA tournaments, EuroBasket, Olympics, and similar international circuits that allow players to represent their home countries.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may even have the best shot to compete with his USA counterparts come next Olympics. But he’ll need help from his family.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the oldest brother, has insane athletic ability. He stands at 6’7”, and is a pesky wing defender who can throw it down with the best of them. Like Giannis, Thanasis started his pro career with Filathlitikos. His D-League stint with the Delaware 87ers in the 2013 season caught the attention of NBA scouts earning himself a spot in the 2014 NBA Draft.
When the Knicks called his name with the 51st pick in the NBA Draft, it was two consecutive years that an Antetokounmpo’s name had been called. Thanasis failed to ever find a role in New York, bouncing up and down from the D-League. After recording six NBA points, he signed a deal with Andorra to play in Spain. He played well off the bench, becoming a defensive force.
As Thanasis tried to make a name for himself overseas, Giannis continued to explode through the NBA season, earning himself his first All-Star appearance. His Most Improved Player Award was further evidence to how quick his rise has been. Thanasis earned something recently as well—a two-year deal with Panathinaikos.
Returning to Greece will hopefully spark an outbreak in play for the 25-year-old. Playing with one of Europe’s elite squads next to some former NBA talent could show Thanasis’ skill along the wing. More importantly, it puts him closer to the national team staff.
Thanasis and Giannis entered the 2016 Olympic qualifiers looking to push the nation as the new faces of basketball. With their younger brother Kostas sitting on the bench, the brothers failed to get through the buzz saw in the form of Dario Saric and the Croatian national team. The Antetokounmpos were without experienced veterans like Spanoulis or Ioannis Bourousis, which should give Kostas even more hunger.
Kostas, the better shooter of the brothers, has yet to step foot on the court with Dayton after being redshirted his freshman year. He enters this upcoming season recovering from a knee injury, but looks to implement himself as a first-round draft prospect. Kostas’ style of game differs compared to his older brothers.
The almost-seven-footer is more of a shooter who likes to pass from the wing. He’s not as ball dominant as Giannis, and more versatile on offense than Thanasis. He’s actually the perfect complement to the two older ones. This should play well for them in EuroBasket 2017, as Greece looks to reclaim glory after a devastating knockout in last year’s Olympic qualifiers.
But first, Dayton will get a crack at the first Antetokounmpo brother to climb through the NCAA ranks. Kostas is in line to be a high lottery pick next draft if all goes as planned this season, and could be joining Giannis in the league sooner than later.
Lastly, there’s Alex. The lanky 15-year-old still must log a lot of basketball growing pains before we can pinpoint his dominance. But what we do know is he already has a 7’2″ wingspan, and full confidence from his older brother Giannis. The reigning All-Star claims his youngest brother will be better than him once he reaches the NBA.
Whether that occurs or not is still years down the line. For now, let’s appreciate the paths each brother took. Giannis exploded onto the scene as a promising lottery pick, and now has put himself among the game’s best. Thanasis entered the league by way of the formerly mentioned D-League, before finding himself back in Greece playing for Panathinaikos. Kostas is trying to reach the NBA with a family-first NCAA appearance. And Alex is trying to carve his own path to greatness.
For now and years to come, Giannis Antetokounmpo will stand as the most prominent basketball figure Greece has scene since Nikos Galis. But the overlooked stories of his three brothers have just as much importance. Thanasis may never reach the level of basketball he had hoped for, but he can bolster one of his home nation’s top clubs as a Euroleague powerhouse. Kostas will try to do what few Greeks before him have done, and that’s excel at the college level. Alex will try to grow into an even “freakier” version of Giannis.
When you sit back and look at the Antetokounmbros, you might think, How could they live up to the hype of Giannis? But that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about each individual brother. By next Olympics, we could literally see all four brothers represent their home nation. We could see the four brothers, who all took different paths in basketball, stand side-by-side, giving Greece the most talent they’ve ever seen.
The story may be Giannis right now. But the real story lies in the brothers as a whole. Each one is set to try to prove their true talent to the world this upcoming basketball season, each at different levels. So talk about Giannis, but don’t forget about the other Antetokounmpos.