Could it be possible that Nuggets fans and fans of the Twilight movie series have something in common? While the moviegoers must decide if they are on "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob" - Nuggets fans have been filing into "Team Koufos" (Jeff Morton) or "Team Mozgov" (me) camps. But no matter what camp you choose, you have got to be happy that the Nuggets have two young and promising seven-footers on their roster in Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov. So, what has Koufos been up to this off-season and where is his career heading?
7'0’’ 265 lbs.
Turns 23 years-old February 24, 2012
Experience: The 2011-12 season will be Koufos's 4th in the NBA.
Contract status: Koufos has 1 year and roughly $2.2 million remaining on his deal and a $3.2 million qualifying offer for the 2012-13 season.
***The following statistics are a reflection of Koufos's games with the Nuggets***
Koufos played in a total 50 regular season games last year: 34 for the Minnesota Timberwolves and 11 for the Nuggets, only appeared in one of Denver's five playoff games.
Minutes: 8.9 per game (8.7 career)
FG: 50.0% (48.2% career)
FT: 63.2% (63.3%)
Free Throw attempts per game: 1.7 attempts (0.8)
Three-point attempts: n/a
Steals: 0.2 per game (0.2)
Blocks: 0.5 per game (0.4)
Assists: 0.0 per game (0.2)
Rebounds: 3.0 per game (2.3)
Offensive boards: 1.4 (0.9)
Defensive boards: 1.6 (1.4)
Scoring: 4.9 ppg (3.3)
Positives / What he brings:
Koufos is a young, athletic player. His towering height will allowing him to hang around the league for many years, but his athleticism can set him apart. Koufos moves around the basket pretty well, has been working on little jump hooks near the hoop, and loves to go up for one handed dunks. Kouf's defensive presence is also pretty strong as he has a good nose for when to go up for blocked shots (like the anti-Chris Andersen as far as pump-fakes go) and his rebounding is something that the Nuggets truly need.
Once again, Zorgon from Welcome to Loud City provides us with some insight into what Koufos has been up to during the 2011 EuroBasket Championships in Lithuania:
Zorgon of WTLC on Koufos during the Greece vs. Slovenia game: Though (Kosta) Koufos hasn't played a main role in Greece's national team during this Eurobasket, he has been a solid backup, and somebody who can have an offensive spurt here or there to get the team going in the right direction.From what I saw, Koufos has two main assets: His size, and his basketball IQ. They'd found success in rolling him to the basket and Koufos has found success in tricking out opponents down low. His high IQ is reflected in his good ability to set screens and keep the ball movement going when he knows he can't score. Koufos is also a pretty darn good rebounder, grabbing 5 boards in 10 minutes. His post game, on European terms, doesn't leave a whole lot to be desired. But on a NBA level, his size isn't as much of an asset, so he hasn't been as effective.I don't really have a lot of knocks on Koufos, because he doesn't have any real huge gaping holes in his game. But his jumper was pretty average for a European big man, and he doesn't have the skill set to take one while guarded. He's also really hot-and-cold. At times, he can be a huge help to his team, but he can just as easily take an entire set of plays off and not be effective. That's why I think the Greeks play him in spurts.He's been a great 6th man for a young Greek team, but I don't see him having a huge impact in the NBA. A lot of the good fortune he's had in the Eurobasket is the result of playing in a well-developed Greek system with clear cut roles for each player. Sure, he's good enough to be a post force in Europe, but NBA centers are a lot more athletic, and he doesn't have especially good athleticism or skill around the basket. Plus, his mid-range shot isn't good enough to be his calling card, like it was for Mehmet Okur and Nenad Krstic. His good passing and rebounding help a bit, but he won't really do anything to wow you, or be much more than a servicable backup center.
Koufos' stats from the 2011 EuroBasket Championships:
|Opponent||Final Score (W/L)||Minutes||FG Shooting||Points||Rebounds (offensive)||Blocks|
|Bosnia||76-67 (W)||21||4-5||10||10 (4)||0|
|Finland||81-61 (W)||11||3-4||7||2 (1)||1|
|Montenegro||71-55 (W)||28||8-13||19||3 (2)||4|
|Croatia||74-69 (W)||20||3-4||7||3 (1)||0|
|Slovenia||69-60 (W)||13||3-7||6||8 (4)||1|
|Russia||67-83 (L)||18||6-9||15||3 (1)||0|
|Georgia (Skita!)||73-60 (W)||17||3-7||6||3||3|
|Totals||6-2||17.1||31-50 (62%)||9.1||4.4 (1.6)||1.3|
Negatives / What needs to improve:
Koufos is getting to the point in his career where the word potential might start slipping from conversation about him and words like journeymen or serviceable start to replace them. I still think he has the right tools to be a legitimate NBA player and somebody that can really help out a contending team, but should be he a starter? We can leave that up to the coaches and to Kouf's play on the floor.
It's a big concerning to me that he's not starting for Greece as he's an NBA player. To put that in prospective, Renaldo Balkman also wasn't starting for Puerto Rico - that job went to Ricky Sanchez, a former Nuggets draft pick that hasn't been able to stick on an NBA roster. Meanwhile, Mozgov has been seeing consistent minutes with team Russia. The thing about that is that Moz is Kouf's biggest threat on the Nuggets roster, the starting job is going to go to one of them (at some point, maybe soon) and Moz might have the inside track.
Koufos, as Zorgon noted, doesn't have a real jump shot and sometimes looks for his own offensive game a little too much. While I noted Kouf's rebounding can be a major advantage, his time on the floor will determine how many opportunities he gets. If Koufos can't get his all around game up and become someone George Karl can trust to do the little things (rebounding and defense) and takes too many shots away from the Nuggets' scorers (Danilo Gallinari, Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson to name a few), then he may find himself on the bench more than he likes.
Outlook for 2011-12 season:
The Altitude TV guys talked about how Koufos felt he was outplaying Mozgov during practice last season. That battle should be a good one as the two push each other. I do have concerns about Kouf growing as a player without having a mentor playing alongside him. If Nene and Kenyon Martin both leave the Nuggets, the team will need to bring in a veteran big man to teach the young guys the ropes of life in the NBA, both on and off the floor.
I see Koufos earning minutes with the Nuggets, but I see him doing so from the bench. When he gets his opportunities he does take advantage of them and did give the Nuggets a size advantage when he played limited minutes in the Nuggets vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder playoff series (just one game!?) that gave fans hope that he'd see some more playing time. Kouf is still young enough to continue to grow and he has a great opportunity with the Nuggets to go as far as his talents will take him.
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