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Player Grades: Kosta Koufos

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The veteran big man played his role to near perfection.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Grading anything as subjective as an entire NBA season is always a tough gig. Different people have different goals for an individual as well as different techniques for assessing a seven month long journey. To keep things moderately simple, I will be using the expectations we had heading into the season for each player as the barometer for how well their season went. These grades won’t necessarily tell us where they rank among their fellow NBA players or what their career trajectory may be, but rather it will help assess where we stand with that prospect today compared to where we stood in October.

Player: Kosta Koufos

Grade: B+

Reasoning: Kosta Koufos is a pro’s pro. He knows exactly who he is, doesn’t try to do more than he’s capable of, and was the most consistent producer on a team full of roller coaster contributors. His NBA game isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing, but he earns every dollar he’s paid.

Areas of Strength

Kosta’s biggest area of impact as a backup big man is his rebounding. He understands that grabbing boards is a skill that takes discipline, and was the most frequent player on the squad in proper position, boxing out, and cleaning the glass. Sacramento was one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, averaging the third fewest per game (40.9), and Koufos helped mitigate that weakness by leading rotational players in every rebounding category:

Ninja on the Glass

Rebounding metric Contribution Team Rank NBA Rank
Rebounding metric Contribution Team Rank NBA Rank
Offensive Reb % 11.7% 1st 17th
Defensive Reb% 19.3% 1st 20th
Total Reb% 19.3% 1st 20th
Reb per 36 mins 12.2 1st 17th

Kosta was also the leader in FG% and 2P%. Staying in theme with his overall assessment, he fully understands any limitations in his skill set and does his best to minimize those weaknesses. Koufos’ constant proximity to the hoop was one of the main drivers of his high completion rate:

Shooting Tendencies

Distance FGM FGA FG% % of Total FGA
Distance FGM FGA FG% % of Total FGA
Restricted Area 117 169 69.20% 43%
In the Paint (non-RA) 98 201 48.80% 52%
Midrange 7 19 36.80% 5%

Our backup center was also effective as a defender, especially in the post. He was in the 72nd percentile of all post defenders, allowing a team-low 0.80 points per possession with opponents shooting 44% from the floor. He also rarely fouled when protecting the hoop, sending offensive players to the charity stripe only 3% of the time. Overall, players’ field goal percentage dropped from 62.9% to 58.1%, a 4.8% difference, when guarded by Kosta within six feet of the basket.

Areas of Opportunity

There isn’t a ton of negative feedback available for a guy who knows his role and performs it well. The largest criticism of Koufos comes in the way of his occasionally odd shot selection. His weird little wrist-flip, shot put, half hook has become a minor legend in team lore, and he actually hits it at a decent rate, but there are occasions in which he falls far too in love with his specialty. There are no stats that track such a unique offensive move, but the farther out he moved from the basket, the less effective that shot became. We all collectively groaned when we saw Kosta turn around and jack up a nine foot shot from ten feet out.

Final Thoughts: Kosta Koufos was the most consistent player on the team this season. He came ready to play, whether meant starting and getting 30 minutes, or coming off of the bench and barely seeing the floor. He was the team’s best defender and rebounder.

On an individual level, he posted career-highs in many areas: Player Efficiency Rating, Defensive Rebounding Percentage, Total Rebounding Percentage, Assist Percentage, Steal Percentage, and several others. He managed to improve as a player on a team bereft of talent that desperately needed a steady constant like Kosta.

Our backup big man isn’t a flashy player who puts put big numbers. His acceptance of his skill set is a rare thing found in the NBA: a highly undervalued asset. He has a player option of $8.7 million at the end of June, and of all of the veterans with player options, I believe his opt-in would be the most beneficial for the team moving forward.