By John Schmeelk
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I really can’t believe the fury from Knicks fans over drafting Kostas Papanikolaou. It just shows the irrationality of fans everywhere. First of all, no one besides people like Jonathan Givony or Fran Fraschilla have even seen this guy play. Most fans automatically have flashbacks to Frederic Weis and assume the worst. It’s foolish.
Often times, foreign players can be a steal in the second round, especially ones that don’t come over right away. Many teams are hesitant to use a pick on player they won’t see for a year, leaving good value on the board. That’s how the Spurs got Manu Ginobli. I’m not saying Papanikolaou is going to be Ginobli. I’m just making the point that he could be more talented than the American players left on the board.
European players shouldn’t be jammed into a stereotype any more, either. They aren’t just soft perimeter players than don’t bother to try on the defensive end. Guys like Danilo Gallinari and Thabo Sefolosha both excel on the defensive end. If the scouting reports are right, Papanikolaou is part of that group. Fran Fraschilla has called him the European Bruce Bowen. Even if he doesn’t arrive until 2013, the Knicks can certainly use a strong defensive player that can knock down an open three.
Knicks fans also need to realize that despite their optimism, there was no future star waiting for them at pick number 48. At best, the Knicks would have ended up with someone that could have been a role player at the end of the bench, someone with the ability to play 10-15 minutes a game. They weren’t finding a starter or an impact player.
In fact, despite the fact they will have to wait a year for Papanikolaou, he will be far more NBA ready than any college freshman or sophomore would be. Not only did he player professional ball in Greece, but he also played in the Euro league and could be on the Greek Olympic team. He is playing against much better competition than is at the college level in the USA.
Last year, I and many other Knicks fans made fools of ourselves by panning the Iman Shumpert pick. He turned out to be very good. It’s much more difficult to pass any sort of judgment on a second round selection. Nothing the Knicks could have done at No. 48 would have changed their playoff prospects next season anyway.
So Knicks fans, calm down and wait and see.
– Looks like the league and union are going to work out a settlement on the Bird rights appeal. That’s good for everyone since having an appeal pending while free agency started would have been very, very messy.
– I was disappointed no significant trades went down on draft night. With very few standout players, I expected more movement. I don’t think many of the players drafted will make impacts in year one. The draft may be deep but I don’t see many All-Stars emerging from this class.
– It’s amazing that free agency starts soon… should be interesting.
You can follow me on Twitter for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and New York sports @Schmeelk.