The San Antonio Spurs embody the globalization of basketball. Their prolonged success has been largely based on the contributions of international players. The Spurs have the number 29 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and an intriguing prospect they should consider selecting if he’s available is a Greek center named Georgios Papagiannis.
What immediately stands out about Papagiannis is his incredible size. He’s listed at 7’2’’ and weighs 276 LBS. Often young players that size are lanky and don’t have sufficient muscle, but Papagiannis doesn’t have that problem.
He could benefit from bulking up to improve his defense, but he has thrived in the low block on offense without ever a hint of being pushed around by opposing players.
His youth career is interesting. He became the youngest player to ever play professional basketball in Greece when he was just 14 years old. He played for a team called Peristeri.
He attended high school in Pennsylvania during his junior year, but transferred to the American School in Athens, Greece for his senior year.
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Papagiannis was heavily pursued by both American colleges as well as the Greek Basket League. He signed with a team called Panathinaikos in the summer of 2014, with the ability to opt out and attend college in the U.S. the next season.
He decided to stay in Greece, and ended up winning the Greek Cup in both 2015 and 2016.
He’s a solid athlete for how big he is, showing off some explosive finishing moves inside. He also possesses nifty inside scoring ability with his back to the basket.
He doesn’t have much range, though, and his effectiveness decreases the further away from the rim he is.
He seems to lack toughness on defense, although he’s a decent rebounder and shot blocker for his size. He’s a liability when switching on pick-and-rolls, and his lack of perimeter defensive skill can certainly by exploited at the NBA level.
His draft stock is largely based on the coordination and athleticism he displays for someone his size. He’s still very raw on both offense and defense.
As a scorer, he should look to expand his range beyond just the post. He should also show more of a commitment on the defensive end, because he underachieves for the remarkable physical tools he has.
His potential is enticing, and the Spurs have the luxury of already being an elite team even without instant impact from their draft pick. He could end up paying huge dividends later on if he were drafted and given some time to refine his game in Greece before bringing his game to the NBA.