With roster spots to fill, and more trades seemingly in the works as the trade deadline looms, odds are that the New York Knicks will cast an eye toward their D-League affiliate for a few extra bodies.
Given that the Westchester Knicks practice out of the same facility as their parent club, scouting their roster for potential help shouldn't be too hard. And one of the call-ups most likely to be granted a chance to step up will come with a ringing, if not entirely unbiased, endorsement.
Greek-born forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo is averaging 13.0 points and 6.1 rebounds for Westchester, a tick up from last season with the Delaware 87ers when he was named to the D-League’s All-Defensive Third Team.
But the so-called "Greek Freak," in London as the Bucks prepare to face the Knicks on Thursday, claims it is time there was an addition to the current crop of siblings within the NBA.
“He’s going to make it,” Giannis said. “The call-up is going to be hopefully soon. My brother keeps working hard, he’s staying focused and he’ll just do what it takes to get into the league, and I think his work effort is going to pay off. He’s ready.
“I don’t [think] the Knicks have anything to lose. Their losing streak is 15 now. Tomorrow is going to be 16. So they have nothing to lose. My brother will bring energy to the team, and the guys in the team can see that and take something from him.”
With a small cluster of family coming from Greece to see Giannis in action, his lone regret is that the matchup couldn't be more of a family affair.
“When the season started, I thought [Thanasis] would be called up before this game,” Giannis said.
But Giannis, the No. 15 overall pick from the 2013 draft, is getting enough attention on his own. Bucks coach Jason Kidd has reached out to former rivals, including Scottie Pippen and Dikembe Mutombo, to give the young star some words of advice.
On the trip to the United Kingdom, Giannis -- averaging 11.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season -- took the opportunity to pick the brain of Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Their stories might have similar narratives one day. Olajuwon was also once an unheralded arrival from overseas who would eventually write his own legendary script.
“It was the first time I’ve met him,” Giannis said. “He is from Nigeria. My parents are from Nigeria.
“He told me to work hard and stay away from temptation: no girls, drugs, stuff like that, to stay away from that. I told him not to worry.”