The Los Angeles Lakers signed Kostas Antetokounmpo using one of their two-way contracts prior to the 2019-20 season. At the time, it was believed — perhaps jokingly — that this decision was made as a recruitment tool for his brother Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time MVP was supposed to be a free agent in the summer of 2021 but eventually signed a five-year supermax extension last offseason.
Surprisingly, the Lakers chose to hold on to Antetokounmpo for the entire 2020-21 season. Because the Lakers did not send a team to the G League bubble, Antetokounmpo spent the entire season with the Lakers but rarely saw on-court action.
Antetokounmpo spent some of the season in the NBA’s health and safety protocols while also suffering a minor injury. In total, he played just 15 games for the Purple and Gold, averaging 3.7 minutes per game in those appearances. He also averaged 0.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game while shooting 3-for-10 from the field for the season.
He was away from the team during their postseason run, dealing with a personal matter back in Greece.
Two-way players generally aren’t completely NBA-ready or NBA-caliber. Lakers fans were spoiled by Alex Caruso being the team’s first-ever two-way deal. However, Caruso isn’t the norm by any stretch.
Players like Antetokounmpo are what fans are more likely to see from a two-way player. Antetokounmpo and the Lakers’ other two-way player, Devontae Cacok, are both restricted free agents, meaning the Lakers will have to make a decision on them very shortly. Teams only get two two-way slots so they must be very selective and confident in who they choose.
Antetokoumpo was a part of a five-man unit that nearly put together one of the best comebacks of the Lakers season. Trailing by 27 with 7:01 to go against the Boston Celtics, head coach Frank Vogel turned to a lineup of Talen Horton-Tucker, Alfonzo McKinnie, Ben McLemore, Cacok and Antetokounmpo.
Over the next 5:43 of the game, this lineup proceeded to spark a 24-2 run, cutting the deficit to just five points. They ultimately lost by eight, but an all-bench unit forced the Celtics to bring in their starters during a game that was supposed to be over.
Given his age and his impact thus far, it’s unlikely he stays another year with the Lakers. L.A. can and should use their two-way spots on younger players with greater potential, and Antetokounmpo might not be of that ability on the NBA level.
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