By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to a trademark Eurohoops.net column that aims to do some creative thinking and enjoy basketball from a new perspective, in this case to match up current players with players of past eras. Every player is unique – just like any person – and it’s not always necessary for them to be contrasted, especially considering how much basketball has changed, even from one decade to the next.
Here, we’ll place side-by-side players who peaked in the 2000s with current or fast-rising Euroleague protagonists, everyone from stars to role players. The magic in looking for which former player comes to mind when watch a current one never gets old! You may agree or not with our choices, but when you disagree, we are interested in hearing your own views on similar players from this decade and the last. Have fun!
This time we put Luis Scola and Georgios Printezis in the simulator! Both players, at different times, have dominated the ‘4′ position – power forward – and have been completely identified with one team whose fans adored them. Both are big men with big personalities whose share an inclination for scoring and who have been essential in their teams reaching great heights in the Euroleague.
Scola played in the Euroleague until he was 27 years old and then moved to the USA and the NBA, while Printezis has remained in Europe to dominate in recent years. The same was true for the Argentinian ace as well, in his time at Tau Ceramica!
Luis Scola (born 1980, 2.07 meters, power forward)
Scola played in the Euroleague for seven seasons, all of them in Tau’s colors! He played 144 games total and in his first season went all the way to the finals! It was a best-of-five final series in the first Euroleague season and Euroleague Kinder Bologna eventually won the title in the fifth and last game.
In his last three Euroleague seasons, Scola was in the Final Four consistently: in 2005 in Moscow, in 2006 in Prague and in 2007 in Athens. However, he didn’t manage to win the title. In Moscow, he reached the final, but Tau were defeated by Maccabi Tel Aviv, while in the next two seasons Scola’s team lost in the semifinals, against Maccabi again and against Panathinaikos Athens, respectively. This doesn’t diminish at all the imprint that Scola left as one of the most commanding power forwards that we’ve enjoyed watching in the Euroleague.
His career in numbers
In his seven-year Euroleague career, Scola registered a very impressive 14.3-point scoring average! He did so with 58.1% two-point shooting, 67.1% on free throws. He also averaged 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals. He attempted just 11 three-pointers and made only one! His personal best in scoring is 36 points, from a game against Brose Baskets Bamberg in February of 2006.
Georgios Printezis (born 1985, 2.02 meters, power forward)
Printezis is currently in his 13th Euroleague seasons, more than of them in the jersey of Olympiacos. Until the 2011-12 season, he was a good player with ups and downs and a few break-out performances. Since then, his status has changed radically as developed into a top-class player, something he has proven on multiple occasions. He has played in four Final Fours – in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015. He has won two titles and last season played a third championship game thanks to his amazing performance against CSKA Moscow in the semifinal. He has been – after Vassilis Spanoulis – the most important player during Olympiacos‘s impressive run in the Euroleague in the last five years. Printezis is considered the best ‘4’ in the Euroleague right now, as demonstrated by the experts’ opinion in a recent survey of the GMs of the Euroleague’s 24 clubs.
Printezis is excellent in the transition game and charismatic offensively in the low post, where even the best centers in the league find it hard to compete with him in terms of effectiveness and variety of movements. In recent years, he has shown his very strong personality and an ability to make the difference in big games, especially at the last moment. The two most characteristic cases: his buzzer-beater in the final against CSKA in 2012, which made history and decided the European title against CSKA; but also the three-point buzzer-beater and series winner in the playoffs last season against Barcelona.
His career in numbers
In a total of 187 Euroleague games, Printezis has averaged 9.3 points while shooting 56.4% on two-pointers, 31% on three-pointers and 70.2% on free throws. He also grabs 3.7 rebounds and almost 1 assist per game over his career. From 2011-12 onwards he had consistently been a double-digit scorer. This year, he completes five seasons in which he’s been scoring more than 10 points on average, putting his numbers very close to Scola’s!
This season, Printezis is scoring 13.4 points in just 24 minutes per game with 57.4% two-point, 34.2% three-point and 77.4% free throws accuracy to go with 5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and a performance index rating (PIR) average of 13.9. He achieved his career-best performance last week against Khimki Moscow Region with 30 points and a 37 PIR.
The biggest differences
Speaking always of Scola as we saw him in his Euroleague years and of Printezis this decade, let’s take a look at the two players side by side.
The Argentinian is taller and bulkier. A better rebounder, more effective against heavy-contact defenses close to the basket and much better than Printezis at threatening face-to-face and from mid-range.
The Greek is clearly superior from long distance, since he now shoots quite consistently from the three-point line, something that Scola never managed to do in his European career. He has a lighter body and this is why he is more able to keep up with smaller and faster opponents in one-on-one defenses.
There are many substantial similarities between them. Scola, when he was playing in the Euroleague, as well as Printezis, are lethal low-post scorers. They use both their hands well, they specialize in fakes, they pivot from both sides and they’re very hard to stop. This is why defenses are often forced to send double teams to try to force the ball out of their hands.
The jump-hook shot is a characteristic element of their game. The Argentinian’s hook is more orthodox in terms of basketball technique. The Greek’s shot is strange and in his country is called “the thrower”! The point is that Scola and Printezis have scored countless points in their career through such finishes.
Also, both players are great at keeping up with the transition of their teams and finishing plays in the open court. So, overall, which are the most important similarities in the simulation of Scola and Printezis?
The common denominator: Self-sufficient big men!
We are speaking of the best ‘4’ of the last decade and the best ‘4′ in the Euroleague in recent years! Both are top-class at their shared position and durable at very high performance standards.
The most important similarity is that they impose themselves on the game through their energy, their inclination for scoring and the very important fact that they are self-sufficient big men! What does this mean? They can set up and finish their own plays on offense.
They are not completely dependent on their guards offensively, as is the case with the overwhelming majority of players that play in the paint in modern basketball. They threaten, score and create for the team instead of the team creating for them!
Add to this that Scola is still a symbol of devotion and self-sacrifice, perhaps the most beloved foreign player in the history of Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz, since he never changed teams and always gave everything on the court.
Exactly the same applies to Printezis and Olympiacos. He was a fan of the team growing up and has spent 15 years now wearing its uniform at all levels.
They may be different players, but Scola and Printezis bridge two decades as well as the power forward position with their dominance in the Euroleague!