He arrived with the usual smile and confidence. He had in his backpack almost ten years of experience in the Argentine national team and presented himself to the NBA as one of the best point guards in the Euroleague, the most demanding competition in European basketball. However, as soon as he set foot in the Ball Arena, the imposing stadium of the Denver Nuggets, Facundo Campazzo was amazed like a child. It is that the NBA is different from everything. And for Facu it was to fulfill a dream.
Campazzo’s first season in the NBA, atypical in that it largely took place without an audience and then with limited seating, was marked by the word adaptation. Different rules, longer distance for the three-point shot, different dynamics than that of Europe and several more edges. Parties with prominence and a determining role and others in which their participation was accessory. In short, what the majority of players who went through that transition from FIBA basketball to the NBA have experienced.
At the beginning of the season, Facu spent much more time sitting on the bench than on the court and had very little of the ball in his hands. In the last stage, especially since Jamal Murray’s injury, the Argentine had active participation and moments of prominence. Campazzo averaged 6.1 points, 3.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 21.9 minutes per game in the regular season. His playoff statistics grew notably: 9.3 points, 4.1 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. In 6 of his 10 postseason games, the Cordovan scored in double digits, with 14 points as a maximum mark on two occasions: the first and the fourth game against Phoenix.
“It was a long season, with many games. Everything was new for me so I tried to learn as much as possible”said the Argentine guard after finishing his participation in the playoffs with the elimination in the semifinals of the Western Conference at the hands of the Suns.
Campazzo is now ready for his second season in the best league in the world. What will Facu’s walk be like? How did it go for the other Argentines who played their first two years on the same team? Second parts never was good? Let us travel the path of history together.
Manu Ginobili He came with a title in his debut season at the San Antonio Spurs, 2002-2003. At the individual level, he improved all the statistics for 2003-2004. He played 77 games and started 38 (8 and 33 more than in the previous one). In addition, it grew notably in points per game (12.8 against 7.6), assists (3.8 against 2.0), rebounds (4.5 against 2.3) and minutes (from 20.7 to 29, 4). The Ginobili parameter is the top of the range in the history of Argentines in the NBA, a distant goal for Campazzo.
Chapu Nocioni He also stepped up between his first and second seasons with the Chicago Bulls. While in 2004-2005 he had averages of 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 25.8% in triples in 23.4 minutes in 81 games played (38 as a starter), for 2005-2006 his records grew to 13 , 0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 39.1% from 3-pointers in 27.3 minutes in 82 games (43 from the start).
TO Carlos Delfino It took him more work to climb a notch in his NBA experience. Performances in the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons offer some similar numbers: it went from 3.9 to 3.6 points per game and from 1.8 to 1.7 rebounds. Although he improved his 3-point effectiveness from 25.7% to 33.3% and significantly increased his number of games played from 30 to 68, he reduced his on-court presence from 15.3 minutes per game to 10.7. Delfino’s most marked growth came from his third and fourth year in the league, when he was able to play every game in both the Pistons and the Toronto Raptors, and especially on his return to the NBA after a year of impasse in the Russian basketball.
Fabricio Oberto He came to the NBA at a similar age to Campazzo’s arrival at the Nuggets. The Cordoba pivot played his initial campaign at Spurs, 2005-2006, at the age of 30. Oberto, always in a blue-collar role in the NBA, made marked progress for his second season. From 1.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 48.4% in doubles on average in 59 games, all as a substitute, he went on to register 4.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 56.2% in doubles in 2006- 2007. The finishing touch was the ring obtained in the final against the Cleveland Cavaliers from a young LeBron James.
Walter Herrmann He played three consecutive seasons in the NBA, but did not complete two with the same team. In his debut for Charlotte Bobcats, in 2006-2007, he played 48 games (12 from the start) with averages of 9.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 46.1% in triples. The Santa Fe started 2007-2008 also in the Charlotte franchise, with which he played 17 games, but was later transferred to the Detroit Pistons, where he participated in 28 games. He was never a starter in his second season and his stats were down in all areas. His third and final season in the league was played in full with the Pistons, but he also failed to get off the ground.
Luis Scola He is the only Argentine player to have played all 82 regular season games in his first two NBA seasons (he also played in the third). Although he had been chosen in the 2002 draft by the San Antonio Spurs, the beginning of his path was only in 2007-2008 with the Houston Rockets. Of the 39 games in which he started in the initiation campaign, he became in the starting five in all of 2008-2009. Luis also raised his numbers in points (from 10.3 to 12.7), rebounds (from 6.4 to 8.8) and minutes (from 24.7 to 30.3).
Pablo Prigioni He was the Argentine who came to the NBA with the oldest veteran: he was a rookie in the New York Knicks at the age of 35 in the 2012-2013 season. In his rookie season he played 78 games (18 as a starter) with 3.5 points, 3.0 assists and 0.9 steal per game in 16.2 minutes per game. In his second season in the Big Apple, the point guard played fewer games (66), but started more (27). Regarding the statistics, he had similar averages: 3.8 points, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steal per game in 19.4 minutes. In that 2013-2014, Prigioni had an outstanding 46.4% in triples.
History marks that, for the most part, the second year of the Argentines showed a path of progress. Of course, it only serves as an indicator and that the certification of this trend is in the hands of Facundo Campazzo. The Nuggets point guard already has extensive knowledge of teammates and opponents. It is also adapted to the rules and everything that surrounds the NBA. You will no longer look at stadiums like an astonished child or face opponents thinking that they are the ones you could only face in video games.
The door is already open to continue playing, Facu. The ball is in your hands.