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A look at the passing of Big Papa

I just realized after typing the above title that it read as if previewing an examination into the death of mid 90’s rap icon Christopher Wallace.  Rather, my topic of choice is the distributing abilities of Houston Rockets rookie guard/forward Kostas Papanikolaou.  Through two games, Papa has dazzled, most recently fueling the team with four 3’s in the first half at Utah.  But what has stood out to me most, thus far, is the passing ability.  While they haven’t always led to baskets, Papanikolau just seems to have an innate feel and understanding of the game.

2014-10-31 07_35_54

Here, he gets a step on his man, gets into the paint, sucks in the help, and feeds Tarik Black for the slam.  That type of awareness from a rookie playing in just his second game is a very rare thing.

There were other instances which I noted, the clips for which I could not find as the pass did not result in a basket.  In particular, on one occasion, I recall Papa threading a double team with a pocket pass.  It’s clear so far that this is a highly skilled player.

I’ve noted in previous posts that the loss of Chandler Parsons greatly concerns me in one area: playmaking.  Parsons often was at the head of attack in the pick and roll, especially in situations when the first pick&roll was snuffed out.  Right now, the Rockets don’t have a capable secondary playmaker after James Harden; creating plays is not Patrick Beverley or Trevor Ariza’s strong suit.  To date, we’ve seen Papa make plays like the one above either in transition or out of the triple threat, as he did there.  Once he gets his feet wet, I hope they increase his responsibilities and test the limits of what he can do.  Playmaking is an extremely tall order, the difficulty of which is highly underestimated.  (People toss Turkoglu comparisons around way too indiscriminately).  But I’d like to see McHale experiment here, when the right time comes.  At first glance, this is a very deft, savvy player who will pay huge dividends this season.


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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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