He may be the largest and youngest (current) player on the Denver Nuggets, but Kosta Koufos is by far the most overlooked player on the team.
Most fans see Koufos as just a throw-in in the Carmelo Anthony trade and why shouldn’t they? Koufos came to Denver midway through his third season in the League and has played in only 123 games and has already been traded twice before his 21st birthday.
However, the Nuggets coaching staff have seen more than that in a little less then five months. Koufos has shown solid offensive game that could stretch out to the 3-point line and an impressive work ethic – especially in the weight room. In fact according to some Denver media, Koufos has outworked prized big man Timofey Mozgov at practice.
Koufos didn’t get a chance until late in the season when the Nuggets decided to rest their starters for the playoffs and he made the most of his opportunity with three impressive games to end the season – two of which came against his former teams.
- Koufos got his first opportunity against his former team – the Minnesota Timberwolves. In a mere 17 minutes, he scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds – all while shooting 5-of-6 from the field.
- In the next game, Koufos played his best game of season. Due to injuries to Mozgov and Nene, Koufos got to play nearly the entire second half (after not playing in the first) against the Golden State Warriors and they couldn’t find an answer for the former Ohio State star. Koufos matched a career-high 18 points in 19 minutes and also grabbed nine boards. And once again he shot a high percentage, making 6-of-8 shots and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.
- In the final regular season game, Koufos once again got a little payback against one of his former teams. In his first start for the Nuggets, Koufos scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds while shooting 7-of-11 from the field.
In those three games, Koufos averaged 14.3 points, 7 rebounds and averaged 21 minutes. He also shot 72 percent from the field in that same time.
Koufos’ play impressed George Karl so much so that he said that Koufos (who left college as a freshman in 2008) would be a lottery pick in this draft. Take that for it’s worth, but Koufos still has an enormous amount of potential.
He has soft touch and great skills around the basket, not to mention range on his jump shot. And as he proved late in the season, he is great on the boards – especially on the offensive glass, where he averaged more than 3 boards in only 21 minutes. He lacks the explosiveness and athleticism that Mozgov has and that could hurt him a little bit on the defensive side of the ball.
However, far less athletic players have had long and impressive careers in the League (Brad Miller, Mehmet Okur and Zydraunas Ilgauskas) and Koufos has all the criteria to join that line of big man.