Signature Moves: Nick Calathes, Panathinaikos

Mar 27, 2020 by Print
Signature Moves: Nick Calathes, Panathinaikos

Nick Calathes has rewritten the record books over the last couple of years. The Panathinaikos OPAP Athens point guard has set the new single-season record for assists not once, but twice, following his all-time high total of 249 assists in 2017-18 with an even better tally, 286, the next season.

Of course, it can be argued that Calathes has been able to set those records because he is playing more games than players in the past, due to the reorganization of the competition's structure to a true league format in 2016. But that doesn't alter Calathes's position of pre-eminence among the greatest passers in European history, because he also stands top of the list of per-game assisters: he has averaged 6.0 assists per game throughout his 211-game EuroLeague career, significantly ahead of second-placed Thomas Heurtel (5.6 apg.) and way better than fellow Greek legends Vassilis Spanoulis (4.7 apg.) and Dimitris Diamantidis (4.5 apg.).

Earlier this season, Calathes moved ahead of Diamantidis into second place in the all-time assists chart, now totaling 1,260. And one of the main reasons he has been able to stack up such impressive numbers is his ability to quickly and accurately release a dazzling range of passes. One person who Calathes dazzled was his former coach, Hall of Famer Rick Pitino, who did not hold back when rating the passing ability of his guard. "I've coached against Magic Johnson, Bird, some of the great guards – Maurice Cheeks, Isiah Thomas – in the game," Pitino said. "Nick Calathes is the best passer I've seen in my lifetime."

To see the variety of passes within Calathes's repertoire, look no further than the video of his top five passes from the 2017-18 season. From the top of the offense, with one hand or two, on the fastbreak, driving in one direction and passing to the other, through thickets of defenders and behind his back, Calathes sees the play before anyone and sets up his intended targets perfectly, delivering the ball with pinpoint precision. It's a joy to behold his creative brilliance night-in and night-out, and a privilege for EuroLeague fans to be witnessing one of the best who has ever passed a basketball!