The Houston Rockets acquired the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou this summer in the trade that sent Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers. However, they didn’t make much of an effort to bring him over for the upcoming 2013-2014 NBA season. As Papanikolaou plays for Greece in Eurobasket 2013, though, it’s pretty clear why.
In the Greek’s first game of the tournament against Sweden, Papanikolaou submitted one of the most uninspiring 22 minutes of playing time. He finished the game with only two points, four rebounds and one assist while only taking two shots from the floor and not getting to the line even once, which is not a great sign from someone playing the small forward.
He continued to be relatively unimpressive in the team’s second game of the tournament as they faced off with Russia. In 21 minutes he was bit more productive as he finished with 10 points, two rebounds and two steals while shooting 4-6 from the floor and 2-4 from long-range, but he seemed to still lack aggressiveness and didn’t show much versatility in his game.
There’s no denying Papanikolaou’s talent and potential to be a contributor in the NBA. However, he needs to continue to work on his body while playing overseas, namely by getting stronger. A guy with his size and frame on the wing position shouldn’t be limited to jump shots; he should be able to effectively get to the rim and to the foul line, especially in the NBA. Before the Rockets decide to bring him to the league, he’s going to have to show them more.