By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Greek forward Kostas Papanikolaou is automatically eligible for this year’s NBA draft. He finished his season in great fashion, being Euroleague’s and Greece’s champion as a member of Olympiacos and he seems like a sure bet for the draft night.
He has also a contract with Olympiacos until the summer of 2014 with an NBA buy out after next season (summer of 2013). So what is he thinking about this situation and when he expects to play in the NBA;
“The possibility of playing in the NBA is very interesting to me and I think that I should test my skills in USA. This is something that I owe to myself, but I am not in a hurry! My agents and many NBA scouts who have approached me, believe I will be benefited in every level by staying in Europe a little bit longer. That’s my opinion too. I am not a specialist in anything, my game is still developing and I know that if I remain at Olympiacos under coach Ivkovic, I will become a much better player. I will see which team will pick me, I will stay at leat one more season in Europe and then I will think about the possibility of going to the NBA”, says Papanikolaou to Eurohoops.
Will his contract with Olympiacos count against him in the draft? “It’s possible. Usually that’s what happens. Take Nick Calathes as an example. He signed with Panathinaikos before the draft and that was a factor at the draft. It’s not something that it bothers me. I have learned in my life to start from the bottom and work my way up. I know if and when I get to the NBA, everything will be difficult. It’s the rule for rookies, but it’s not something that concerns me. The best player of all time in the NBA wasn’t picked in no1, right?”
Does his game adapts well to the NBA style; “For sure in Europe I am considered an athletic player, but in the NBA that part of the game is way above me. I believe that European ball will help me more, when I will decide to take the next step. I will be able to use my mind in the court way better than I do today. I believe that it’s easiest for a European to adapt to the NBA style, than the other way around. It’s very hard for an American player without European experience to immediately adapt to our style of play”.
Does he have any preference about the team that will pick him, or at least about its status in the NBA; “Not really. Everything in basketball, as in life, changes. You never know what the future might be, specially in the NBA where one trade can alter the fate of a team. I would love to be in a rebuilding team and I have faith in my skills”.
Who are his favorites NBA players: “I love the NBA an the way they play the game. I follow every team and almost every player, but I have a soft spot for small forwards, because it’s also my position. So I admire LeBron James and Kevin Durant. The “King” is more than versatile and he has a complete game. The Thunder’s leader is also a very gifted player, he is an authentic talent that can’t be stopped”!