Pablo Prigioni is an international legend.
He was the engine for the Argentina team that won the bronze medal in 2008, averaging 7.1 points per game and 4.6 assists per game. And he would have been a big contributor to this year's Olympic team if not for an injury suffered just before the London Games. Prigioni was 31 in 2008, and beginning the end of his prime years.
Prigioni's international career is even more celebrated and passed largely outside American eyes.
Prigioni led the Euroleague in assists while playing for Tau Ceramica in 2006 and was voted the best point guard in the ACB League in Spain (largely regarded as the second best league in the world) in 2006, 2007 and 2009. He has led his team to three Spanish King's Cups, four Spanish Supercups and the 2008 Spanish Championship. In Euroleague play, he has averaged 6.2 points per game and 4.4 assists per game in 25.0 minutes per game -- which equates to 9.9 points per 40 minutes and 7.0 assists per 40 minutes.
If there is one things Prigioni has always been able to do it is run the pick and roll and find open shooters or make the right play.
And so his move to the NBA at 35 years old is both intriguing and surprising. Clearly Prigioni will not be able to do everything he was once able to do. But his stats from the Spanish ACB League are better than Ricky Rubio's when he came into the NBA. It is quite possible that Prigioni could have something of a similar statistical impact.
As I noted earlier, the Knicks need a point guard who can manage the team and make sure both Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are involved and active while keeping everyone else on the roster involved. That kind of game management is likely why New York brought Jason Kidd in.
It is also the reason why Prigioni may push Raymond Felton to shooting guard (something Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports Mike Woodson has already decided) and backup Kidd at point guard. Unlike Felton, Prigioni is a passer first. And with few players who can create for others on the roster, that is something that is at a premium for New York.
The question is whether Prigioni will hold up. His age is certainly a factor going forward now. And last year with Caja Laboral Vitoria, Prigioni averaged only 6.0 points per game and 2.7 assists per game in a little more than 20 minutes per game. This is about how much time he should expect to play for the Knicks if he cracks the rotation.
For Prigioni, he has always had NBA talent. But his decision to come to the States might have come too late for him to be the most effective. That is unfortunate for American basketball fans who largely missed his successful career in Spain.
Now we might just get a glimmer of Prigioni's brilliance as he ends his career (it would seem) in the U.S. under New York's bright lights.
How will the Knicks sort through their point guards this season? Join the discussion in the comments below or on Twitter by using the hashtag #KnicksDay.
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