Knicks, Thomas Look To Slow Down Greek Freak

The Knicks will face one of the Top 5 players in the NBA under the age of 25 tonight when they take on the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was a Greek mystery when he entered the 2013 NBA Draft. He lasted until the 15th spot in one of the weaker draft classes in recent years.

Long before the Bucks took The Greek Freak, the Cavs used the No. 1 overall pick on Anthony Bennett. Cody Zeller (4), Alex Len (5) and Kelly Olynyk (13) had come off the board.

The 6-foot-11, 222-pound forward with the 12-inch hands (the average man’s hands is 7.2 inches) and the 7-foot-3 wingspan has emerged as a Swiss Army knife, averaging 28.2 points on 54.6-percent shooting with 10.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

“The Greek Freak, I think, is a force. I’ve never seen anything like him,” Kevin Durant told reporters. “His ceiling is probably … he could end up being the best player to ever play if he really wanted to. That’s pretty scary to think about. He’s by far my most favorite player to watch.”

[Watch Knicks-Bucks Tonight on MSG & MSG GO]

Lance Thomas will be watching Antetokounmpo the way the Secret Service watches the president. Chances are the 6-foot-8 Thomas will get a chance to do more than watch. The Knicks best defender will likely be matched against Antetokounmpo and that could be the key to the game.

However, it’s possible Thomas and the Knicks will catch a break, as Antetokounmpo twisted his ankle Thursday night and is no sure bet to play tonight.

“I love getting the stop,” Thomas said earlier this season. “I like taking the challenge of a guy trying to give me his best move and stopping him. That’s what gets me going in a game and it gets my teammates going. I take that challenge every night.’’

The Knicks have been inconsistent on defense at times this season. If Thomas gets going on Antetokounmpo, then perhaps the Knicks as a collective unit will clamp down on the Bucks.

Thomas has been a stellar defender his entire career. Defense is rooted in hustle, communication, fundamentals, desire and grit.

[Robbins: Knicks Turn to Thomas for Leadership & Intangibles]

Thomas has found a way to bring that to the court every night.

“I just try to keep my approach consistent,” Thomas said. “I’m going to warm up before the game the same way, I’m going to eat the same thing. I’m not going to play mind games with myself because I know what I bring to the team — that’s defensive intensity.

“Regardless of where I am in the lineup, that’s what I’m going to bring when my number is called.”

The Knicks (23-29) will need Thomas tonight (7:30 p.m.; MSG Network & MSG GO). The Bucks (27-23) sit in the 7th playoff spot in the East, five games ahead of the Knicks. This is chance for New York to gain ground and improve its road record (7-20).

Antetokounmpo, who turned 23 in December, won’t make it easy. Since missing two games with a sore knee, and the subsequent firing of coach Jason Kidd, The Greek Freak has been on a tear, averaging 29 points and 11.2 boards.

As the All-Star Game approaches, Antetokounmpo has been in the conversation as to who will replace LeBron James as the game’s best player. Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova played with James in Cleveland and Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

“They’re both so unique,” Dellavedova told reporters in Chicago. “I don’t really compare him to LeBron because he’s his own special player. He does things on the court pretty much every game that I haven’t seen before, but where he is obviously similar is his desire to be the best and the work he puts in.’’

So does Thomas. As a co-captain, Thomas has not shied away from imploring the Knicks to be tougher on the defensive end. Tonight he can lead by example.

“That’s kind of his role, to be that defensive guy,’’ coach Jeff Hornacek said earlier this season. “He’s been a great leader for us, as a team, even though we don’t play him big minutes.

“But he’s always ready. He’s a professional.’’

[Watch Knicks-Bucks Tonight on MSG & MSG GO]