Giannis Antetokounmpo may be the big Greek name in the NBA, however the world’s best basketball league currently has two other Greek players. Apart from the Greek Freak, Kosta Koufos and rookie Georgios Papagiannis deservedly represent Greek basketball in the NBA, both playing for the Sacramento Kings.
Kosta Koufos is not a new name in the NBA having played in the league since his first season in 2008. The Greek forward introduced himself to the world basketball scene after his “show” at the U18 European Championships in Spain, averaging 26.5 PPG, 13.0 RPG, and 3.5 BPG for Greece.
However, Koufos never became the “Greek Dirk Nowitzki” or the superstar that many expected of him, yet he remained a valuable asset for each team in his career. In 8 seasons in the NBA, Kosta Koufos has played for 5 NBA teams (Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings) averaging 5.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.4 APG, and 15.9 MPG. In his last 4 seasons, Koufos has shot more than 50% from the field and the best season of his career was in 2012/13 with the Nuggets averaging 8.0 PPG and 6.9 RPG.
Koufos’ 2016/17 season in Sacramento started off well and DeMarcus Cousins’ trade worked in his favor as he earned more playing time with the Kings. He finished the season averaging 6.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 19.0 MPG while recording five double-doubles. Despite interest from Europe, mainly Panathinaikos, he intends to establish himself in the Kings’ starting lineup and continue his career in the NBA. In a previous statement he mentioned that he is uncertain if he will play for Greece in the upcoming Eurobasket in September.
On the other hand, Georgios Papagiannis was the highest drafted Greek player in history (higher than Antetokounmpo who was 15th) going 13th in the last year’s first round to the Phoenix Suns. Shortly after the draft, the 19-year old was traded to Sacramento where he signed a multi-year contract. After averaging 5.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 20.3 MPG in four games in the Summer League, Papagiannis played in the D-League for the early parts of the season. His good showings in the second division led to his callup to the first team where he played 22 games for the Kings and averaged 5.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, and 16.1 MPG. The 19-year old has great potential and much is expected from him in the years to come.