Kostas vs. LiAngelo: Which Younger Bro Has a Better Shot at an NBA Career?

Yaron Weitzman@YaronWeitzmanFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2018

Bleacher Report

On the surface, there isn't much linking Kostas Antetokounmpo and LiAngelo Ball.

Antetokounmpo is a lanky 6'10" forward born and mostly raised in Athens, Greece. Ball is a 6'5" guard from outside of Los Angeles.

These players share two traits, though: Both are the younger brothers of more famous and touted brothers. Both are also hoping to hear their names called during Thursday's NBA draft. 

So, which of the two are more likely to see the latter come true? Glad you asked. 

     

The Case for Antetokounmpo

Most experts have Antetokounmpo pegged as going toward the end of the draft's second round (including Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman). If that comes to fruition, it'll mostly be due to his upside.

Like his brother, Giannis, Kostas is built like a Greek god. At the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, he was measured at 6'10 ½" (in shoes) with a wingspan just over 7'2" and a 35-inch vertical leap. Physically, he offers NBA teams everything they look for these days.

"I feel like I can play multiple positions," he said at the combine. "I can play the 3, 4 or 5. I'm tall, athletic."

"Like Clint Capela, his timing, his shot-blocking ability, the way he plays defends, guards multiple positions," he added. "I feel like my game is close to him."

Sounds like a lottery pick, right? So, what's the catch? 

Well, no one knows how good the 19-year-old actually is at playing basketball.

During his lone season at the University of Dayton, he averaged only 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game. He attempted 15 threes all season and connected on only two. Those numbers don't exactly scream "future pro."

So, what was behind the poor season?

The coach who recruited Antetokounmpo, Archie Miller, left Dayton following his redshirt season. Miller was replaced by Anthony Grant, who reportedly didn't get along well with Antetokounmpo. 

"I know last year was kind of a struggle with him with Coach Grant and how they used him," a former Dayton staffer told Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. "I'm not exactly sure what happened there. Two different stories from both sides."

As for Antetokounmpo, he provided his own explanation at the combine.

"I feel like I'm able to still compete with some of the kids here because of my athleticism," he said. "But I see that my body is not there yet as my brother's was at my age. So, I've got to work on my body."

Still, Antetokounmpo was also clear that he believes he's being undervalued. 

"I feel that a lot of people think that I'm less talented than I am," he added. "I feel like I'm more talented. I haven't really gotten the chance to really show it yet, but I feel like when the chance comes, everybody's going to be surprised."

According to ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony, Antetokounmpo cancelled his remaining private workouts after sessions with the Hornets, Lakers, Grizzlies and Raptors. He did hold a private pro day—one in which he impressed scouts, according to Givony

Antetokounmpo's decision not to work out for other potential employers would seem to indicate that he received a promise—either from one of those four teams, or perhaps a team interested in ingratiating themselves to Giannis, who can become a free agent in the summer of 2021.

It seems more likely than not that the not-so-mini Greek Freak hears his name called Thursday night. Antetokounmpo is as worthy of a late-second-round flyer as teams will find. The physical tools are there. He just needs to prove that his skills can catch up.

As for his counterpart in the famous-last-name department, well...that case is far more difficult to build. 

      

The Case for Ball

There's no real reason for an NBA team to take a chance on LiAngelo Ball.

Some of this is because the 6'5" shooting guard isn't a particularly intriguing prospect. The other part is due to his bloviating father. 

First, the basketball. 

Ball, 20, was a fine high school basketball player, but he wasn't a spectacular one. The 247Sports composite rankings had him ranked as California's 22nd-best player in the class of 2017. Though he had some impressive scoring outputs while playing for Chino Hills High School, he was a 3-star recruit. Ball earned a scholarship to UCLA, but he was never considered a one-and-done-caliber player.

After his shoplifting incident in China, Ball withdrew from school and signed with Vytautas Prienu in Lithuania. He averaged only 12.6 points in 21.7 minutes per game, and it isn't as though he was facing high-level competition.

As such, it's difficult to find an NBA scout who believes he's even deserving of a G League contract. 

There's a reason Ball didn't garner an invite to the combine. And that's before taking into account the circus that comes along with his father, LaVar. 

There's only one reason for a team to consider drafting Ball: a cash grab. Perhaps some team would like to draw attention to its G League outfit. But given how seriously NBA teams take player development, it's difficult to imagine any franchise wishing to upend that ecosystem with an injection of the Ball family. 

It should come as no surprise that Ball has only worked out for two teams: the Lakers and Warriors. According to USA Today's Sam Amick, the Lakers have no interest in drafting or signing Ball, even for the G League. 

The best thing Ball has done over the past year is star in a Foot Locker commercial poking fun at himself. He deserves props for that.

However, a good sense of humor won't get him a job in the NBA.

         

All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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