Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Kostas Papanikolaou


  • Measurables: 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, 22-year-old F from Greece
  • Key Stats: 6.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 61 percent from the field for Olympiacos in Greek League
  • Projected: Second round

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

You thought the Draft Dreams series was over? We’ve just begun, my friends. I still have a few more first and second round prospects to profile before the draft, so expect the series to continue over the next few weeks. In all, I plan to have profiles of 50 prospects, our largest Draft Dreams series in the three years I’ve done this. Today’s profile is No. 39, so I have at least 11 more to go before I reach my goal.

As for Papanikolau, obviously I don’t watch much Euro basketball (as much as I’d love to, I don’t think the marriage would last adding Euro ball to the already busy lineup of NBA, college, community college and high school basketball that I regularly follow), so I’ll defer to scouting reports of those who have seen him for this profile. In the meantime, this is pretty pretty pretty good:


Pros for the Pistons

I mentioned before that, since the Pistons currently have so many players already under contract for next season, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at players who might stay overseas a year or two with one of their second round picks and Papanikolaou, a small forward who has quickly risen to become a legit NBA prospect after good performances late in his season and in the post-season, could fit that bill. The Pistons are in need of help on the wing with Tayshaun Prince aging, Jonas Jerebko currently occupying more of a combo forward role and no idea what to make of Austin Daye or Kyle Singler as NBA players. Papanikolaou’s improvement, along with the fact that he has good size and strength for a small forward, could make him a prospect worth watching. If he stayed overseas another year and built on his improvement this season, he could become a real asset to the Pistons down the road.

Cons for the Pistons

At 22, he’s far from ancient, but he’s also not quite as young as you’d like a developing prospect to be — it’s unclear how much more he will improve, basically. Also, scouting reports on him suggest that — despite that dunk above — he’s not an elite athlete. The Pistons could really use more athleticism at several positions, including small forward.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

A number of NBA scouts came back from the Euroleague Final Four in Turkey buzzing about Greek forward Kostas Papanikolaou. Papanikolaou’s team, Olympiakos, won the Euroleague title and Papanikolaou was a big reason why. He had 18 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes in the championship game, and, more importantly, slowed down CSKA’s Andrei Kirilenko on the defensive end.

The 6-8, 22-year-old forward averaged just 6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for Olympiakos this season and isn’t a great athlete, but he’s won over some NBA scouts with his toughness, basketball IQ and motor.

If he were a better shooter or athlete, he’d have a real shot at the first round. Nevertheless, after his performance last weekend, he’s now a likely second-round pick.


An average athlete with an excellent feel for the game, good fundamentals, and terrific maturity, Papanikolaou’s profile may not jump off the page on first glance, but his size, defensive prowess, experience and productivity at the highest levels of European basketball make him one of the most intriguing 1990-born international prospects automatically eligible for the 2012 NBA Draft.

Standing 6’8 with a solid frame, Papanikolaou has excellent size for a NBA small forward, though he sees time at both forward spots for the Euroleague champions Olympiacos. He runs the floor with purpose, and is able to play above the rim when he has a head of steam, but is otherwise an average athlete. He isn’t explosive from a stand-still and his limited agility makes it difficult for him to create his own shot in one-on-one situations, but his non-stop motor and willingness to initiate contact allow him to make some plays by virtue of his physical tools in the European game.

European Prospects:

His defensive presence was however even more impressive than his impact on the offensive end. Papanikolaou constantly put pressure on the ball handler and forced several bad shots by Pete Mickael and Chuck Eidson. Next to that, he showed excellent defensive positioning and presence on the help lines. With his athletic abilities, he challenged the Barcelona big guys and came up with a block shot against Erazem Lorbek and another very impressive rejection on Boni N’Dong that was called as a foul though.

What is the best thing Kostas Papanikolaou does for his team?

Sam Meyerkopf (follow him on Twitter) is the co-creator of EuroLeague Adventures:

Energy. Whether it’s being a nuisance on defense, attacking the offensive glass, or launching off on the fast break, his energy is the best way Papanikolaou helps his team right now. Think of him as an Omri Casspi type player. He’s someone who plays with a lot of hustle, is a supporting offensive piece, and can guard both forward spots. He has a sound knowledge of the game after grinding his teeth at Europe’s highest level the past three years and developing under coaching legend Dusan Ivkovic.

Papanikolaou’s game took a huge step forward this year. It all culminated a couple weeks ago when he had an MVP type performance on the championship winning team at this year’s Euroleague Final Four. That weekend was the key event that restarted his draft-ability talk. His hard nosed, reckless, and passionate style of play has turned him into a solid role player that the hometown fans will come to love. If Papanikolaou really irons out his long-range shot, he has the potential to be a very valuable and versatile player.



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