Georgios Papagiannis emerging as rebounding force for Kings

It’s only been two games but Georgios Papagiannis is beginning to emerge as a rebounding force for the Sacramento Kings.

The teenage center from Greece has grabbed double digit rebounds in each of the previous back-to-back games including a 14-point, 11 rebound double-double against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

“I’m in a rhythm now,” Papagiannis said. “I started with 11 minutes and then started to get more, so I am just starting to get used to it because most of the time I have been playing for the D-League and when I got here the last few games it was a lot different. So, just every game and every practice I am trying to get used to the players because most of the time I had been in Reno and everything works right now.”

Papagiannis became the highest drafted Greek player in NBA history when the Phoenix Suns selected him with the 13th overall pick of the 2016 draft. He was then traded to the Kings that night and have spent most of the season in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns.

“Because I wasn’t betting as much playing time at the beginning of the year,”Papagiannis said, “it was best for me and it was a great opportunity for me. Great coaches, great players and great teammates. They helped me every day get better and it was the first step to come (to Sacramento).”

This stretch for Papagiannis began a week ago. The March 13th game against the Orlando Magic was the first time Papagiannis saw double-digit minutes since the first game of the preseason. He saw 20+ minutes for the first time against the Thunder and that’s when the payoff truly began for Papagiannis and the Kings.

“He’s a physical guy,” Kings head coach Dave Joerger said. “That is why I went with him and Kost [Koufos] at the same time for a little to see if we could see if we could bang for a little bit more and rebound a little bit better and he did a good job.”

“I have been trying to help on defense first,” Papagiannis said. “it eneded up being a really good game on offense for me too.”

The Kings have been trying to find a new identity since trading DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield on the night of the NBA All-Star Game. Papagiannis seems to be a part of that project.

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