With their only pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks took Kostas Papanikolaou from Greece.
The Knicks selected Papanikolaou 48th overall, but don't expect to see him playing at Madison Square Garden any time soon. The Greek native may not join the team for another two years.
We think he's a good player and we think he's going to get better. We think it's an investment in our future, said Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald. Given where we are with our team and where we're trying to go it's unlikely we were going to draft anyone at 48 who was going to step in and immediately contribute. So we felt this player would be a player who can grow overseas.
According to Grunwald, the earliest Papanikolaou will play for the Knicks is the 2013-2014 NBA Season. There is a $1 million buyout in his contract with Olympiacos, Papanikolaou's team since 2009, next summer.
Papanikolaou is just 21 years old, but has been playing professionally in Greece for a few years. He led his native country to the 2009 FIB Europe Under-20 Championship in 2009, where he was named the MVP of the tournament.
The 6-foot-8 forward has a lot of potential, but was only a role player for Olympiacos. He averaged 6.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game in the Euroleague.
Papanikolaou is quick, and his best asset may be his ability to shoot from three-point range. Once he gets a chance to play more minutes, he's expected to become a consistent scorer.
Despite his lack of playing time, New York feels Papanikolaou has a bright future.
We've watched him over the course of the year and he's improved dramatically over this year, said Grunwald. We see him as a guy who's going to work and improve.''
The Knicks didn't have a selection in the first round. New York sent the pick to Houston in a deal that landed them Tracy McGrady in Feb. 2010.
It's just the second draft pick the Knicks have used on a foreigner since 2003. New York famously selected Frederic Weis from France with the 15th overall pick in 1999.
Weis never played in the NBA.
Here is a video of some of Papanikolaou's highlights from overseas: