With just a few days to practice with the team before the tournament started, Koufos made a sudden impact both on the Greek squad and the Championship, emerging as the most dominant player in the competition, a true colossus. He just delivered an unmatched combination of physical superiority and skills, taking an average group of players (not bad players, but neither remarkable) to the final, only to lose against Milan Macvan
and the omnipresent Serbians.
Koufos shows an impressive build. He had reportedly been working very hard this summer, losing weight while gaining bulk, in order to show up at Ohio State this upcoming fall in the best possible shape, and you can tell hes done a fine job. He looks very strong, particularly in his upper body, while there doesnt seem to be much fat left and, therefore, barely any room to keep losing weight. As a result, he has showcased significantly better athleticism than advertised in advance. For a 7-1 guy with a great wingspan, he enjoys a very solid athletic profile, with nice leaping ability and footspeed.
The shooting reputation Koufos brought from Ohio was pretty much confirmed here. His jumper looks very solid from the mid-range area, out to 18 feet from the basket, but he seriously struggled throughout the tournament with the three-point shot (2/22 overall). Perhaps the further three-point line compared to the HS/college courts and the little time he had to adapt his game were the reasons, especially since virtually all his three-point attempts fell short.
Regardless, inside the arc he left plenty to drool about. Koufos' mid-range stroke looked particularly intriguing: shooting in turnaround fashion off post positions and going for the bank shot after a hesitation, almost a la Duncan
. Hes not much of an off-the-dribble shooter unless hes trying from short distances. Indeed hes neither much of an off-the-dribble player, even if he can put the ball on the floor with both hands and attack his match-ups. Still, he struggles to completely beat his opponents off the dribble, as his first step is average and so is his quickness with the ball in his hands, so those are usually approximation drives that allow him to shoot from shorter distances, often using the glass or trying in hook fashion.
Anyway, if were talking about a 7-1 dominating center, its pretty clear he has to display a very solid low post game, precisely what Koufos shows. He wouldnt likely be a top prospect otherwise. How comfortable and confident he feels down low, and how physical he can be there, quickly jumps to your eyes. It was a piece of cake for him to establish good position against his match-ups at this level, only suffering when the opposing team employed various pieces to float around him so he couldnt receive the ball. Once he receives, he loves to draw contact in his moves; actually he was virtually unstoppable spinning off his opponents bodies, which ended up sealed and unable to contest his layups. Showing extremely solid footwork, his very nice footspeed allows him to do the rest. He also likes to spin towards the baseline and quickly gain his opponents back and go for the dunk or the reverse layup. But he doesnt need to completely beat his match-up in order to score; he enjoys a nice right-handed hook that he can deliver over opponents. In other situations, being close enough to the basket, he would just project himself over his opponent looking for a layup, but this is something he will likely not be allowed to perform at a top level. Still, the biggest weakness Koufos faces when trying to score near the basket is his absolute lack of a left hand. He never uses it, which wasnt a problem in this championship playing against kids, but will hamper his effectiveness in the low post down the road. We also have to mention his strong finishes of alley-oop passes. He can easily get off his feet to go for a powerful dunk.
All in all, the big fella
shows nice poise and feel for the game on the court. He knows how to attack his opponents, which way to go, he nicely combines his different offensive weapons. As example, he was very smart taking Macvan out of the lane in the final and attacking him off the dribble to exploit his lack of quickness. And despite his huge point production, he passed the ball every time he wasnt in good situation to score, often when opposing defenses collapsed on him, then showing a nice ability to take the ball out of the low post, even using the weak side to find an open teammate, but also delivering some nice dishes from the high post.
Carrying a reputation of a mediocre defender, he made a good case to pretty much erase it, emerging as the defensive anchor for Greece in the paint. For many stretches during the game, particularly when he was fresh, he looked almost unbeatable, a huge wall that any opponent would crash into if he dared to come close to the basket. He showed very nice positioning on the court, always keeping the team defense in mind, with excellent timing and decision making going for blocks, and of course, completely taking advantage of his long and strong body. He was a real intimidator. Still, its a pity that he never uses his left hand to block shots, which limits his effectiveness, especially once he faces tougher opposition. Anyway, hes a physical guy with enough lateral quickness for a center and a smart use of his athleticism. He was also a force in the rebounding area, using his length and strength to clean the boards. Still, he often wasnt that aggressive and physical to collect boards that werent falling in his area.
Greece not winning the title was basically because they didnt enjoy a fresh Koufos for the whole game. Actually that was a pretty big problem. Averaging almost 35 minutes, with only 7 minutes of combined rest in the last four games (all against tough teams), he eventually looked completely exhausted. Particularly painful was in the semifinal against Lithuania, where he didnt sit for even a second, and ended up totally burned out and pretty much ineffective on both ends of the court for the last minutes. On a lesser extent (the coach granted him some rest), it also happened in the final. It was pretty usual that his first halves were significantly better than the second ones, greatly affecting the teams result. Actually, his stamina might not be the best around. He was pretty conscious of this situation, and always saved efforts on fast breaks, using slowly jogging or even walking up to the offensive end. But it speaks volumes that in the meantime, his defensive transitions were always excellent. They guy seemed really committed to the game, a very serious player, a hard worker, and just a fine teammate to play with.