Kostas Papanikolaou hasn’t set the world on fire during his first NBA season, but he has already made the Rockets’ rotation, and that’s enough to earn him a little acclaim in a rookie class that has yet to distinguish itself.
Plus, he had an awesome dunk.
More importantly Houston, Papanikolaou – who’s averaging 6.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 25.5 minutes per game – provided much-needed frontcourt depth with Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones sidelined.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, Papanikolaou joined Houston’s frustratingly long list of injured players.
Papanikolaou, via Howard Chen of CBS Houston:
“It’s a first degree, sprained MCL,” he said. “Things could be even worse. I’m happy that it’s that way. It looks like it’ll be a couple of weeks, like 10-14 days to get back. We have a great staff in the back doing a great job and they will do their best in order for me to come back as soon as possible.”
If Howard returns soon, which would contradict Kevin McHale’s statement, Papanikolaou’s absence wouldn’t be felt nearly as much. Otherwise, the Rockets can’t keep losing frontcourt players and continuing to win. At some point, it will catch up to them.
Houston has a tough upcoming schedule in the next 14 days – at Warriors, at Kings, vs. Nuggets, at Nuggets, vs. Pelicans, vs. Hawks, vs. Trail Blazers. The Rockets will need all hands on deck, or at least as many as they can get.