Jose Angel Antelo is flirting for the third consecutive week with the 20-point, 10-rebound mark for LHospitalet in the LEB Oro League, leading this weekends effort against Union Baloncesto La Palma (19 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks), although his team couldnt take home the victory and is in danger of being relegated to the 3rd division. The Spanish forward is back to the second division after failing to establish himself in the ACB the last season. Hes still 20 years old and will have plenty of opportunities to achieve it in the future; meanwhile, the LEB Oro seems like the perfect place for him. Averaging 10.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in about 22 minutes per game, hes a productive cog on his squad, showing basically the same stuff that once made him one of the most statistically efficient juniors in Europe. Hes still a face-up power forward who lives off his shooting stroke and driving ability, combined with a superb knack for the offensive rebound (averages 3.2 per game, second in the league). However, hes making strides with his perimeter accuracy, and even if he shows the same old unbalanced release on his jumper, hes netting 41% of his behind-the-arc attempts. His shot selection looks improved, and he now doesnt rely as much on his perimeter firepower, sometimes opting for the mid-range or just going all the way to the basket. He shows a very solid first step here and we can even see him eventually going left and using his left hand to finish around the rim, which used to be an extremely rare feature. Anyway, his rebounding ability stands above the rest of his game, showcasing his superb hands, wingspan, positioning and nose for the rebound. On the downside, hes still not much of a defender, lacking activity and consistency, particularly on team defense, and hes not particularly creative for his teammates in the offensive end.
Despite coming off a successful season in LEB (Spanish second division), he drew a lot more interest because of off-court issues rather than his actual play. He was set apart from the team mid-way the tournament because of his behavior (hes apparently a well-known spoiled brat and troublemaker with a history in the young Spanish national teams). On court, we didnt see anything different from past occasions: a face-up power forward who bases his game on either shooting 3-pointers or slashing towards the basket (depending on how hes defended). Hes not really great at any of them, as his stroke is very inconsistent (his mechanics are pretty ugly), hes not lighting quick and tends to go strictly right on his drives. However, he manages to produce. He can draw fouls in penetration and he seems to have some kind of gravitational force over the ball, showing a terrific knack for offensive rebounds that allow him to consistently produce off second-chance options. He will make a good living in Europe, but its hard to count on anything else.
A player who draws controversial and extreme opinions, particularly in Spain, some people love him and some other hate him. I can understand both sides, as they all can make a strong case. Some people will hand over the stat sheet arguing that Antelo was the best producer in Belgrade; the clear-cut top rebounder and second-best scorer, but its important to analyze the way he gets those stats.
On one hand, you will read that hes a me-first player who ignores the team, looking to shoot virtually every ball he touches, with poor decision making skills and no defense. But at the same time, we cant ignore that Antelo helped Spain to make the semifinals in the last three European tournaments he has played, always having a very important role on the team.
Well, all of this is true.
A bit undersized for the power forward position (he must be near 6-9) despite the good wingspan he enjoys, while not featuring remarkable athleticism, Antelos potential is limited, particularly NBA-wise.
Offensively, hes a compulsive slasher, trying to take advantage of his good mobility against bigs. But hes only effective going to his right, to the point that if he attacks going left, he changes direction during the drive, becoming very predictable. Hes not that quick and usually suffers trying to beat his rivals, but he rarely loses the ball or releases a bad shot, although his insistency is a double-edged sword. On one hand, hes a permanent offensive option for his team and a threat for the rival. On the other, he damages the teams offensive flow as every play ends as soon as he gets the ball, and he also gives back a good number of balls in bad conditions after not finding a way to score.
Hes also a good shooter, static from the three point line (he was less prolific in Belgrade than he had been in other previous tournaments) but with off the dribble ability from the mid-range area. Theres little to no post game to speak of, while on defense hes generally missing in action, although he can do decent work if he wants, as he enjoys the lateral mobility and wingspan to annoy his rivals.
Perhaps his most remarkable skills are his amazing rebounding instincts, showing perfect positioning, and his character on the offensive end, assuming the responsibility whenever its necessary (which is rather logical for him when you think about it), and the way he can make extremely complicated shots. Hes a player that makes things happen for himself, at least in the junior stage. However, he shows a very questionable attitude and, as youll guess, little team spirit. He could certainly use a little humility and more hard work on the court.
A scoring and rebounding machine at the youth level, Antelo seems to have a god-given instinct for those purposes. Indeed, he was the best player born in 1987 in both statistical categories. When he rebounds, it is as though his hands were magnetic, and, of course, he displays a great sense for positioning. When it comes to scoring, he loves the jumper. Despite peculiar mechanics, his shot is reliable. If his defender will not allow him to shoot over the top, he will try to break him down and beat him. For a power forward, he is quick and handles nicely, but he abuses the dribble and gambles too much, and he also tends to favor his right to the point of predictability. He is a fearless player, always willing to assume offensive responsibilities. On the other hand, he has little post-up game. His decision making is questionable, and he's not always consistent on defense.
Antelo's potential draws some serious concerns. At 6'8 he is undersized for a power forward and lacks the athleticism to make up for it. He's too slow for the small forward spot. He would have to grow at least a couple of inches before we could start talking about NBA potential. While still young, he seems not to have enough growth left to make such a leap.