Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

No personnel move is more emblematic of the reliably baffling Vlade Divac administration in Sacramento than the team’s selection of unknown Greek center Georgios Papagiannis with the 13th pick of the 2016 draft. Sacramento traded back from the eighth spot in that draft and smartly snared peppy Serbian perimeter dude Bogdan Bogdanovic in the process, only to blow their freshly acquired late lottery pick on a guy who various mock drafts had going 58th, 51st, and never. There’s something to be said for getting “your guy” in a draft, but that approach’s validity breaks down when you reach for that guy 40 or so picks early. Maybe Papagiannis reminded Divac of the leaden galoots that inhabited the NBA during his playing career. Maybe he saw something in him literally no one else saw. Maybe the Kings picked him because of his dad.

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But there is no universe in which the selection of Papagiannis was defensible or even explicable, which made him a perfect Sacramento Kings draft pick. It seemed inevitable that the pick wouldn’t work out, but in some sense it didn’t matter what kind of player Papagiannis became—the absurdity of taking him when they did was always going to be the biggest story of his career. We can probably start using the past tense, now, as Papagiannis has already been unceremoniously cut just a year and a half after being chosen 13th overall.

Pre-draft scouting reports on Papagiannis were rosy, if also a bit confounded. Papagiannis got the same sort of treatment than any/every other fringe European prospect gets—described as a tantalizing commodity with great physical potential and an untested skillset, illuminated only by some inconclusive and strangely lit foreign game tape. He’d played a bit of high school ball in the United States but mainly buffed his credentials on Greek national youth teams and with the Greek pro team Panathinaikos. Also the guy is 7-foot-2, which is enough to draw at least a look from the NBA. Curiously, several scouting reports note his mobility and athleticism for his size, which would seem to make him an intriguing draft-and-stash prospect, or someone that a team could develop slowly and carefully over a few years. The second round belongs to just this kind of Schrodinger’s Big Man type.

Instead, Papagiannis got picked in the lottery, came over to the NBA right away, and was quickly revealed to be the precise opposite of mobile. For some reason, I watched a great deal of the 2016 NBA summer league, and what stood out about Papagiannis was his glacial slowness. He was physically imposing; if teams drafted using only still photographs of potential prospects, 13th overall would seem about right. The problem was that Papagiannis played at a bleary, frame-by-frame speed; even in summer league he was transparently unable to keep up with the pace of the game. He’d block the odd shot here and there because he was simply so close to the rim, and he truly did have soft hands for one of the tallest players in the NBA. You could see the bits and pieces of a potentially productive NBA player even then, but only in flashes and at the micro level. He had attributes, real ones, but he didn’t have a game.

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It quickly became apparent that the dude couldn’t play. Even in the best case scenario—that is, being drafted by a team with even the faintest idea of how to develop players—Papagiannis would clearly need time to come to terms with moving his big body around against NBA players. The Kings are the opposite of the best case scenario, and they didn’t so much develop Papagiannis as periodically dust him off. Both Malachi Richardson and Papagiannis left the Kings yesterday, which makes four recent Kings first-rounders, along with Nik Stauskas and Thomas Robinson, who washed out before logging 82 games with the team.

Papagiannis only saw the court 38 times. If you want to see a highlight reel, this is as good as it got.

The Kings aren’t anyone’s idea of good this year, though they were replete with big men throughout Papagiannis’s tenure. Even after DeMarcus Cousins was shipped to New Orleans last season, though, Papagiannis found himself behind Skal Labissiere, Kosta Koufos, and Willie Cauley-Stein. As a result, he spent a lot of time with Sacramento’s D-League entry in Reno.

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If Papagiannis has a legacy, it’s the following transaction sheet from Basketball Reference, which suggests he developed an intimate knowledge of the best food stops on I-80. Here is his career post-draft, in its entirety.

November 11, 2016: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 18, 2016: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 21, 2016: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 23, 2016: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 25, 2016: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

December 19, 2016: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

December 20, 2016: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

December 26, 2016: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

January 2, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

January 15, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

January 24, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

February 4, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

February 24, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

February 26, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

March 1, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

March 2, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

March 3, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

March 5, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

March 9, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

March 11, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 9, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 13, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 16, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 20, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

November 29, 2017: Assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

December 5, 2017: Recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the G-League.

February 8, 2018: Waived by the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings could, of course, sign Papagiannis to a D-League contract, and he was close enough to productive at that level to warrant a deal with an NBA team that still sees something in his soft hands and undeniable bulk. He could also choose to return to Europe. It’s hard to imagine him ever becoming much of a NBA player, but he won’t be of legal drinking age until this summer.

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The Kings will remain bad, although they’re less directionless now than they were last year or at any previous point in the three-year Divac regime. It makes sense that the Kings would grow impatient with Papagiannis, especially since he’s easily the least productive player they acquired in that smart-looking draft-day trade for Marquesse Chriss, and because the far more promising Harry Giles will be healthy next year. Papagiannis might really end up as a player who averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 12.4 minutes over a 38-game career, though he at least deserves a shot at a different future, hopefully somewhere far from Sacramento. At this point, everything that ever looked like good fortune for Papagiannis now appears to be anything but. It was unfair to his long-term career that he was picked 13th and had to go to Sacramento, although at least the Kings picked up his 2018-19 option. If there’s a silver lining to the end of Papagiannis’s strange tenure in Sacramento, it’s that he got paid for the full duration of a lottery pick’s rookie contract. Hopefully, this is not the end for him, but if it is, he at least was paid for his troubles.