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Rockets Add Kostas Papanikolaou to Their Roster

The Houston Rockets will battle this season for the NBA Southwest division title with the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.

The Rockets did not have a very successful offseason with trades or free agent signings.

However, one new player on the roster might not attract that much attention, but he could mean a lot to the Rockets during the course of the season.

Kostas Papanikolaou is a 24-year old from Greece who will make the transition from the European leagues to the NBA.

He has been a winner in Europe and that mentality is something Houston could use.

He has won two Euroleague championships, a championship in the Greek professional league and a champion in the Spanish League.

Besides team accolades the rising star was the MVP as the FIBA Europe U-20 Championships in 2009 and the Rising Star in the Euroleague in 2013.

The big question mark is whether the success the young Greek has had in Europe will translate to success on this side of the pond.

Professional basketball is played at another level in the U.S., but the player will bring a huge skill set that could help the Rockets.

The New York Knicks drafted Papanikolaou in 2012. He ended up staying in Greek to play with Olympiakos as a draft and stash future player.

The Knicks eventually traded his rights to the Portland Trail Blazers in a deal that included Raymond Felton being traded to New York.

Then while still playing overseas, Papanikolaou’s rights were acquired by Houston when they traded Thomas Robinson while making room for the eventual signing Dwight Howard.

The first week of August, the Rockets signed him to a contract of two years, and he will reportedly play this season in the NBA.

Papanikolaou is 6-foot-8 and can play either No. 3 of No. 4.

He hit 36% of his three-pointers this season in Euroleague play while scoring 7 points per game in just 25 minutes of action per game. He also hit 60% of his shots from the two-point area.

Do not expect Papanikolaou to be one of the stars when the Rockets make their run for the playoffs in 2015. However, he could help soften the blow of losing Chandler Parsons during the offseason, when the Rockets did not match an offer sheet by the Dallas Mavericks for the versatile No. 3.

The new player from Europe will likely need time to find his spot on the team and in the league. Expectations over the long run are much higher than in the short term, as he will need to assimilate first and show his talents second.

However, do not be surprised if this latest player from Europe ends up being an important new addition to the Rockets roster for the 2014-15 season and beyond.

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