Like what happens with almost any quality big man in International basketball, the NBA sirens have always been tempting for this strong big man from Greece.
Now a commodity for the fans of International basketball, Papadopoulos surprisingly became a factor already in the 2002 Euroleague Final at age 21, when he came off the bench to score 12 decisive points in a dramatic Panathinaikos win over hosts and favorites Kinder Bologna, the same year he went undrafted and a year before returning to the low-budget, overachieving team of Iraklis. A strong year in the 2003-04 season (15.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.0 apg) proved he was the best center available from the Greek A1 Championship was rewarded with a transfer to ULEB Cup favorites Dynamo Moscow.
Papadopoulos became the recognizable go-to player for the Greek National team in the home-organized Olympics in 2004. Leading his team in points and rebounds (12.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg), he was one of tournament's best big men, after dominating Andrew Bogut
in the opening game versus Australia (21 points, 9 boards) and presenting a strong game against Tim Duncan
(14 points, 7 rebounds ). Despite never reaching superstar potential in Dynamo Moscow, his offensive effectiveness and stability helped him become one of the best European centers during the past two seasons, averaging 12.9 ppg and 6.7 rpg in his last year, while having to overcome double-doubles from almost every team he faced. His unstable performances in the Eurobasket in Belgrade and the ability of opposing defenses to contain him seriously hurt his stats (9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg), but Greece still went all the way to win the European Championship and thus his status in the International market didnt take a serious blow.Strengths:
Papadopoulos presents a strong body with many fluid post moves that are tough to stop, especially with one on one defenses. A fine ball handler for his size and a better than average passer, he helps his teams ball distribution and, thus, the team is hardly hurt when he is double teamed. When he is, he can successfully find the open man, and when he isnt, the successful game that he has with his back to the basket help him approach the rim smoothly and either score with a unique hook or use the well-worked spin move to free up his shot. When he is 10 feet or closer to the basket, he carves out space well and is a load to contain. Being only 26 years old, he is yet to reach his peak as a player and should still have quite a few good years left in the tank. Weaknesses
Even though he is a very effective offensive player, Papadopoulos game lacks some fundamentals, mainly because his defense will never reach a high level. Not necessarily an explosive player, Papadopoulos lack of a decent leaping ability has seriously hurt his rebounding averages over the years. His positioning on offense might be good, but for an NBA center, a top priority is defensive rebounding and Papadopoulos was never great at that. In a similar taste, his slow movements, average defensive timing and limited lateral quickness are the main reasons for him rarely blocking shots, even though he has the strength to do so.
In the offensive end, he may be productive, but, unlike most big men in Europe, his game is hardly complete, as he seriously lacks a steady mid-range shot and the only reason he is ever outside the post is his nice ball handling and creativity. There are question marks about his internal drive and basketball IQ at times, as Papadopoulos should certainly be a more dominant player than he currently is in Europe. Why Sign Him?
Papadopoulos game flaws might be obvious, but he still remains one of the top centers in European basketball. His game improvement in the crucial rounds of ULEB Cup helped Dynamo Moscow take the crown this year, while his ability to continuously create double-teams has followed him throughout his career and has helped him to be the centerpiece of almost any team he has played to.
However, this might never be enough to secure him a decent NBA career. While the lack of offensively touted big men has made it easier for European players to find a place in the NBA, Papadopoulos lack of athleticism and defensive liability might be a drawback for any team that decides to get him in the near future.
Having just resigned with Dynamo, Papadopoulos playing time might be seriously affected next season, as a new law forces all teams in the Russian Superleague to use a minimum of two Russian players at all times in local games.