SACRAMENTO -- The Kings have landed their man. After moving down from No. 8 to No. 13, Sacramento made a shocking move, passing on point guard Wade Baldwin and shooting guard Denzel Valentine in favor of center Georgios Papagiannis out of Greece.
With this selection, Papagiannis becomes the earliest Greek player drafted in NBA history and he will join his countryman Kosta Koufos on the Kings frontline.
“I'm going to go to Sacramento and be teammates with (Kosta) Koufos, being with a Greek guy on the same team, it's different,” Papagiannis told NBA.com. “But we've got Peja (Stojakovic), who's going to speak Greek to me, too. So it's a great feeling.”
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The 18-year-old center averaged 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds and .7 blocks in 11.4 minutes a night for Panathinaikos. He has tremendous size, measuring 7-foot-2 and 240-pounds, but he will need time to develop either in Europe or on the Kings’ bench.
“I was so nervous before the beginning of the NBA Draft,” the 7-footer said. “Now I'm so excited. I don't believe it. Yeah, I'm so excited to go to Sacramento.”
Koufos and Stojakovich aren’t the only Kings player Papagiannis is familiar with. He is also an admirer of star big man DeMarcus Cousins.
“DeMarcus Cousins, I admire his game so much, and I love that he's going to be my teammate,” Papagiannis said.
“I've been watching him since last year. He has a lot of skill moves in the post. Tough, tough guy to play against. I love his character. He's mean for the game. He's hungry,” the rookie added.
The Kings added 6-foot-6 wing Malachi Richardson with pick No. 22, which they acquired for earlier in the day in exchange for veteran Marco Belinelli. They will also draft at No. 28, which they picked up along with the No. 13 and European prospect Bogdan Bogdanovic in exchange for No. 8.