NBA: Papanikolaou and Antetokounmpo Keep the Greek Flag Flying [VIDEOS]

A dynamic beginning by the Houston Rockets have them atop the Western Conference (7-1) while at the same time the Milwaukee Bucks have left a disastrous last year behind them, starting off with a decent 4 wins – 4 losses. Both teams can thank their openings to their respective Greek players. The Rockets’ Big-Papa and the Bucks’ Greek Freak.

Kostas Papanikolaou

Last night, the Greek rookie delivered a career-high in points performance with 4/4 three-pointers and 14 points total against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Mexico City. Just before that, in the their only loss this season, he had 10 rebounds.

The 24-year-old forward is learning to adjust to the NBA style and in the process of that, a number of games will end with below-the-average appearances. Hence the game vs the Golden State Warriors in which he finished with just 2 points and 1/9 Field Goals or in San Antonio where he walked away pointless.

However, with 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 25.1 minutes, he’s doing considerably better than his last season in Barcelona where he ended with 6.7 points but just 3.8 rebs and 1.5 assists in 24.2 minutes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Growing an inch since last year, the Greek Freak has now become the roster’s tallest (6’11”), making it rather difficult for him to act as a point guard, a role that Jason Kidd, Milwaukee’s head-coach, had initially planed to give him.

By adding a great deal of maturity to his play, learning not to force his attacks and concentrating on checking back faster defensively, Giannis has now become a key element for the Bucks. His superlative talent in addition to his hard work have increased his numbers substantially this season, up to 10.9 points and 5.1 rebounds compared to his 6.8 and 4.4 last year.

A great example to his recent success is his last two performances against the Oklahoma City Thunder (14 points and 7 rebs) and the Memphis Grizzlies (18 points and 2 rebs).