Papagiannis’ Mid-Year Report with Analysis and Video

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When the Sacramento Kings traded away its eighth pick in the 2016 NBA draft to the Phoenix Suns, the Sacramento faithful went into shock. The weight of what a potential top ten draft pick would do for the Kings’ future was one that the community wanted to hold on to.

With an opportunity to draft a potential franchise-sculpting player at the eighth spot, the Kings went another route collecting two first round picks from Phoenix and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanović.

Sacramento selected seven-foot-one Georgios Papagiannis with the Suns 13th overall pick and later drafted Skal Labissiere 28th overall. The consensus hostility towards the Kings at the time of the draft focused tremendously on Vlade Divac’s decision in drafting Papagiannis, as well as trading the organization’s eighth pick.

To date, Papagiannis has yet to string together a consistent span of games on the Kings sidelines but has been able to showcase his talents with the Reno Bighorns in the developmental league.

Papagiannis has seen the court twice in a Sacramento uniform once at Milwaukee in the bitter minutes of a blowout and second at home in the final minutes of a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Although the Kings did not draft an NBA ready player in Papagiannis, they gained a 19-year-old seven footer with a unicorn skill set.

Anytime there is a chance on taking a seven footer who can shoot it’s a no brainer to instantly draft that player correct? Divac believed in his scouting report of Papagiannis and what skillset he could offer the franchise a year or two down the road.

Divac knew he was going to be a work in progress coming into the league and drafted Papagiannis on the trendy assumption of maybe finding the next Dirk Nowitzki or Kristaps Porzingis.

When Papagiannis came down to Sacramento, he weighed at an un-athletic 265 lbs, raising questions about his ability to play at the NBA level. Since then, he has been able to transform his body into a stronger version of himself.

His conditioning being his biggest concern when making the move to the NBA, Papagiannis has proven that he can stay in shape and continue in bettering his motor.

Another downfall of his once poor conditioning was his ability to set a firm screen and contribute off of the roll. During his time with the Bighorns, Papagiannis has flourished in the pick and roll game by increasing his stamina.

His stamina increase has led him to grow on the defensive end, which was his biggest red flag before the draft.

19-year-old players are a project in the NBA; some get more playing time than others and some wait patiently until their number is called.

Rudy Gay’s Achilles injury opened the window of opportunity for Richardson to find playing time and hopefully leave the D-League behind him for good. This is the same fate that Papagiannis hopes to have once he’s caught up to speed of basketball in America.

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Papagiannis is a top 15 first round pick and his expectations are higher than most, meaning that his lifespan with the Bighorns will be questioned at times based on timeliness.

It’s a presumed conclusion in the NBA that if you’re a first round pick you’re supposed to report to the NBA franchise rather than to the D-League affiliate to start the season. But there is a special value that is unlike others in Papagiannis.

His age gives him the precedent over all odds enhancing his stock day by day as he develops. Offensively, he has become poised and is able to finish more efficiently than he ever did in Greece.

Papagiannis will remain on the Bighorns for the remainder of the Kings’ eight game road trip and can potentially get called up when the team makes the trip back to the Golden1 Center.

Papagiannis is averaging 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Reno Bighorns and had his best game as a Bighorn on Wednesday night against the Sioux Falls Skyforce scoring 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

Kings call ups: Papagiannis has logged nine minutes for the Kings with two points in his limited minutes against the Grizzlies and the Bucks.

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Manny Vieites
Special Contributor to Cowbell Kingdom

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