Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Learn to Spell: Antetokounmpo

Thursday, December 05, 2013


I am here today to tell you I have seen into the future.

Specifically, I have seen the city of Milwaukee in the year 2016. It is a prosperous place, where typos grow like wildflowers and shot-blocking is part of the core curriculum in local schools. Where the biggest name in town also happens to be the longest name in town: Two words, 20 letters, monstrous upside and endless possibilities for smartphone autocorrect.

Giannis Antetokounmpo.

To be clear, I refer to the future because this is not a player who should definitely be starting for your fantasy team tomorrow. And he’s not a player who’s guaranteed to be start-worthy in a week, or even three.

This is, however, a player who has a chance to be a force in fantasy leagues as soon as this season.

In case you’ve missed the box scores, the No. 15 overall pick has now played 28 minutes in two of the last three games, and posted intriguing stats on both occasions (10-7-4 with two 3s and a block on Saturday, and 6-6-4 with a steal and three blocks Wednesday night).

But this isn’t about the stats as much as it is about the eye test. And in that department, Antetokounmpo’s biggest moments – plays like this – practically jump off the screen and punch you in the face.

If you haven’t seen him play (and at the risk of building him up too much), he's a similar size to a younger/skinnier Kevin Durant (and is apparently still growing), runs the floor with surprising speed and has elite potential as a shot-blocker. (In addition to the block I linked above, I saw Antetokounmpo volleyball spike a Greg Monroe shot toward the sideline as one of his three blocks Wednesday).

That’s the good news. The bad news is he’s a teenager (turns 19 on Friday) who’s going to inevitably struggle through inconsistency. He’s also benefitting right now from a short-term injury to a veteran (Caron Butler) who’s not expected to be out that long.

Add all this together, and you have an erratic fantasy option at the moment, but the potential for some silly stat lines later in the year for a very bad (3-15) Bucks squad.

In closing, learn to spell the name. I’d wager there will come a time when he’s flying off waiver wires this season, and if it comes down to a footrace, you’ll want to be able to search quickly.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Thursday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7pm ET on ThursdayHere's the FanDuel link.

Editor's Note 2: For articles, projections, rankings and more, get the Rotoworld Season Pass right here.

In other hoops-related matters…

Let’s take a moment to discuss Andrew Bynum. Bynum has posted strong numbers in his last two games (17.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 3.0 bpg, including 20 points, 10 boards and five blocks against the Bulls), but we should stop short of smashing a piñata in celebration. Bynum’s big night against the Bulls came in a season-high 30 minutes – the only time he’s played more than 25 minutes in a game all year – and the Cavs had a full three days off between that game and their next game. Even with those three days of rest, Bynum only played 20 minutes against Denver on Wednesday (14 points, seven boards) and was not in foul trouble. In fairness, he looks considerably better than he did earlier in the year, and it’s encouraging that he’s putting up numbers right now, but it still doesn’t look like the Cavs are ready to give him big minutes consistently. Until they do, Bynum is probably going to remain frustrating. And if they do, his knees will probably fall off. But at least in that case it would be a lot of fun for a little while.

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Speaking of the Cavs… I’ll stop short of saying he looked like a player you’d want to draft No. 1 overall, but Anthony Bennett (five points in 11 minutes) looked far from useless – dare I say, almost useful? – in his limited run on Wednesday night. He spent a lot of time on the perimeter playing small forward, showing a decent stroke and some explosion going to the rim. As bad as he’s been so far – he still has yet to hit double figures and is shooting 24.1 percent on the season – Bennett is at least now on my watch list. (And if we’re being honest, he’ll probably stay there for quite a while.)

Random Thoughts, Part 1: I won’t argue with adding Al-Farouq Aminu in the wake of Anthony Davis’ injury (15.0 ppg, 15.0 rpg, 3.0 spg in his last two games), but be prepared for inconsistency. During Aminu’s 2012-13 season (7.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.2 spg, 0.7 bpg), the hot streaks were brief and the droughts were frequent. … Paul Millsap had some disappointing games last month, but in his last three games, he has posted 21.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.0 bpg and 2.3 treys, looking more and more impressive in Mike Budenholzer’s offense. Millsap easily has the potential to be a top-20 fantasy option going forward. … Serge Ibaka (14.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.6 bpg) has three or more blocks in every game but one this season nine out of his last 10 games. He’s a big liability in steals (0.2 spg), but is still returning fringe first-round value (No. 16 overall on Basketball Monster’s leaderboard) in 9-category leagues. … Andre Drummond’s first three games of December: 21.7 ppg, 18.7 rpg, 3.3 spg, 2.0 bpg and 44.7 percent from the line on nearly 13 FT attempts per game. He’s doing a better Dwight Howard impersonation than Dwight Howard himself. … Speaking of Howard, he’s averaging just 13.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg and 0.9 bpg in his last seven games, and his current scoring average (16.6) is his lowest since 2005-06.

Random Thoughts, Part 2: I’ve been excited about Trey Burke’s potential in Utah since the night he was drafted, and I’d be very stubborn about keeping him on your roster if you showed the patience to wait out his finger injury. Burke has posted 18.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.0 spg and 3.0 treys (36 min per game) in his last three games. … Tim Duncan is looking a lot more like the Duncan we saw last year (last three games: 20.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, 2.0 bpg). I’m personally going to try to trade him to avoid DNP headaches down the line, but at the same time I’m fully convinced he’ll keep producing at a borderline first-round level when he’s on the court. … Basically a quarter of the way through Dallas’ schedule (20 games), Shawn Marion is taking (2.6) and making (0.9) his most 3s since 2007-08 with Phoenix. Marion, the No. 53 player in 9-category leagues so far, is an inspiration for 35-year-olds everywhere (myself included). … Kevin Durant started off slowly in the shot-blocking department (0.4 bpg through his first 13 games), but has now posted 2.3 bpg in his last four games.

Random Thoughts, Part 3: Derrick Williams has been frustrating so far in Sacramento (9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 27 min per game in three games for the Kings), but I’m going to give him at least 5-10 more games before I give up. (Note: I’m fully aware that this will probably end with me giving up.) … Timofey Mozgov’s last three games: 16 points, 15 rebounds; 17 points, 20 rebounds; eight points, three rebounds. Trying to get Mozgov into the lineup for a productive stretch is a mind game I’m not currently willing to play. … I would like the Nets to know that I sincerely appreciate any and all efforts to continue being awful, because my hometown Hawks can take their first-round pick one of the next two years. Chances that I get my hopes up for Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker only to have those hopes crushed? 93 percent.



Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for Rotoworld.com. You can find him on Twitter here .
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