Georgios Papagiannis knows there are many who mock his play and they had plenty of fodder through three summer league games.
He’d gone scoreless in two of the Kings’ games, which is not the kind of production fans want to see from a player who was selected 13th overall in the 2016 NBA draft.
But if anything, Papagiannis has a self-confidence that’s not easily shaken. His teammates said last season that Papagiannis had a mean streak, too. And after scoring 17 points to go with 13 rebounds and two blocks in Wednesday’s 69-65 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Papagiannis talked like someone who has heard he isn’t a good player.
“I know the last three games everybody was hating on me, I’m pretty sure about it,” Papagiannis said after the win at Thomas & Mack Center. “I don’t care, literally, I don’t care. I’m here for a reason. The team selected me for something so I’m just trying to prove everybody wrong, which I’m really doing.”
Papagiannis has been the target of scorn since the Kings drafted him. Sacramento already had three centers on the roster, including an All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins and their 2015 first-round pick, Willie Cauley-Stein.
It didn’t help that Papagiannis arrived at summer league last year out of shape and injured, adding more for the skeptics to cite as reasons the Kings had wasted a draft pick on the 20-year-old from Greece.
This summer hadn’t started off well, either.
Papagiannis had only made two shots (in 10 attempts) in his first three games. Smaller players were knocking the ball out his hands, but his coaches maintained the hard work he put in since the end of the regular season would show on the court.
Just don’t tell Papagiannis any issues were related to a lack of talent, rather not enough chances to show what he can do.
“I was missing a lot of shots the other games,” Papagiannis said. “I didn’t get enough touches, too. But today it was just me and Skal (Labissiere) from last year so we had to prove even if Buddy (Hield) or whoever is out, we can still play together and get some wins.”
At least on Wednesday, Papagiannis did that. He’ll have a chance to follow up on his performance when the Kings play Dallas on Thursday.
Who is in and out
Wednesday started off well enough for Frank Mason III, as he signed his contract with the Kings before the game against the Bucks.
But Mason’s day on the court didn’t last long as he limped off with a sprained left ankle in the first quarter. X-rays were negative, but he did not return to the game.
It’s unlikely he’ll play Thursday as Kings summer league coach Jason March said the team would be “smart” with Mason.
The Kings held out De’Aaron Fox, Malachi Richardson, Harry Giles and Hield on Wednesday.
Smart said Fox could have played after hurting his ankle on Monday, but was held out as a precaution. March expects to get some of the players who sat out back on the floor Thursday.
Jack Cooley also missed the game with an NBA commitment.