The far more interesting version of the Knicks also played a game on Saturday, as the boys from Westchester traveled up to Maine to take on the Red Claws at 7:00 pm. I for one appreciate the NBA scheduling big Knicks games in the afternoon and W-Knicks games in the evening; what better way to cleanse the palate of yet another New York defeat than by watching the continuing exploits of Thanasis Antetokounmpo?
While the W-Knicks were unable to overcome the Red Claws -- falling 96-92 -- Thanasis had himself a hell of a night: 22 points (8-15 shooting), six rebounds (five offensive), one assist, two steals and one block. That point total could have been higher -- Thanasis shot 6-13 from the free throw line. To put that into perspective, only once this season has a New York Knick taken at least 13 free throws in a single game (Carmelo Anthony -- Nov. 14, vs. Utah).
Here is a nice highlight reel of Thanasis' night. Warning: You might get pregnant.
Yep...the guy is an Antetokounmpo, alright.
As you may have noticed, none of those highlights included a jump shot. Thanasis came into the 2014-15 campaign looking to improve his shooting range, but his percentage from beyond the arc has actually decreased from last season.
So the kid did what any self-respecting Greek Freak would do: He just started running past and jumping over everyone on his way to the rim. Thanasis has all but eliminated the three-point shot from his arsenal since December 8, and his field goal percentage and free-throw attempts have skyrocketed as a result.
Thanasis is often compared to his brother -- a shorter, less talented, more intense Giannis. If you've seen Giannis play this season, you know that isn't exactly an insult. Like Giannis, he is a Vine superstar, capable of destroying fools on either end of the court. Like Giannis (18.8 3P%), he has yet to prove himself capable from beyond the arc.
He seems less concerned at the moment with that outside shot than with his steadily improving post moves and finishing at the rim. I even asked him about it:
Here was his response:
I'm going to take that as a yes! Clearly this is a man with a plan.
The next step is to improve that free-throw percentage, so he can take advantage of all those trips to the charity stripe.
The Knicks -- the big Knicks -- need shooters to maximize the effectiveness of the Triangle offense. Melo needs to be surrounded with shooters who can spread the floor. That is not Thanasis Antetokounmpo...at least not yet. But they could also use athleticism, free throws, and whole lot of defense. Here's hoping the Greek Freak can provide plenty of all three for the big club in 2015-16.