As soon as it became known that Facundo Campazzo wants to make the leap to the NBA, things changed for Nicolas Laprovitola in Real Madrid.
The 30-year-old Argentinean guard, who has been a long-time teammate of “Facu” on their country’s National Team having won silver at the latest FIBA World Cup, was the Spanish League’s MVP in 2019. He was playing for Joventut Badalona at the time and in what turned out to be a career-best season, he ended up with 17.1 points on 39.3% three-point shooting.
After the 2019 World Cup with Argentina, Laprovittola was a star player. On the other hand, Real Madrid had always been a star team in Europe and Spain, a powerhouse showcasing double-digit continental titles.
The 6’3” combo guard saw between 13 and 14 minutes of playing time in his first year with Madrid, as the team was steadily among the best in any competition. Facundo Campazzo, who recently moved to the Denver Nuggets, continued as the undisputed leader and Laprovittola had to settle for less.
In the summer of 2020, Panathinaikos OPAP came along and asked for his services. Real Madrid had been waiting on Campazzo’s decision on whether he would go to the NBA and after detecting his intentions, kept Laprovittola on the roster. Currently, Real Madrid have 14-0 in the Spanish League and stand at 8-5 in the EuroLeague, having won all but one of their last 8 games (a narrow 74-73 loss to CSKA Moscow on a “crazy” Mike James triple). Nevertheless, the Argentinean guard averages 4.3 points on 29% threes.
With Facundo Campazzo gone, will Laprovittola -once at the exit door- gain some more ground and space? It seems that the once San Antonio Spurs player, who had a very brief tenure in Texas with 18 games contested during the 2016-17 season, can perform better in the absence of his compatriot. He now spends more time on the floor, but in order to win coach Pablo Laso’s confidence he will also need consistency in his game.
In this interview with TalkBasket.net, Nicolas Laprovittola – just before traveling to Greece to face both Panathinaikos and Olympiacos back-to-back, readily answered all questions regarding this strange season, what transpired between him and the “Greens” last summer, the advice he gave to Campazzo on the NBA and his personal experience in the league.
Q: What do you think about this season so far? I mean every aspect of it: covid-19, travel, matches, competitions, empty gyms etc.
A: It seems like a strange season, an atypical season in which many teams, all teams, are adapting to this new normality, travel, protocols, etc. The important thing is that the competition continues, that it keeps being played, so that people can enjoy the best basketball in Europe. It’s always better to think about the good things than the negative ones.
Q: What has been the best and worst news you received during 2020 (apart from those related to covid-19)?
A: The most important news, which has made me happier, is that I am going to become a father, a big step in my life. With my partner, we are creating a family, which I hope will be beautiful and I have to be ready for parenthood in 2021.
Q: With the departure of Facundo Campazzo from Real Madrid, do you have the feeling that your role on the team is going to change? Do you think it is a challenge, an opportunity for you to become an important piece in the roster?
A: It is a great opportunity that I want to take advantage of, but the exit of Facu has changed the role of many players, not only mine. Facu was a very important player for us and we are trying to resolve the issue by getting every one of us involved. So, as long as the team functions properly and we get wins, everything will be fine.
Q: Is it true that there was a verbal agreement between you and Panathinaikos last summer? What do you think of the messages that the Greek fans sent you on social media? Were you irritated or amused?
Q: I received many messages, really a lot, from the fans of Panathinaikos. Panathinaikos was the team that was most interested in me, but everything was resolved in a fairly simple way: the club saw that Facu could leave and decided that I could not go (there). I am happy to be on the team and the roster of Real Madrid because for me it’s an important opportunity.
Q: What do you think of the two Greek teams (Olympiacos and Panathinaikos) and in particular their guards (Sloukas, Spanoulis, Mack, Nedovic)?
A: I watch the EuroLeague because I like it. I try to focus on a lot of guards and Sloukas is one of them. He is a player of my generation, whom I have faced at some Junior National Team tournaments. He has always made progress. In my opinion, Nedovic is the most important player of Panathinaikos. He is capable of making decisions with the ball in his hands and he’s also a great scorer.
Q: What is the element or detail you did not expect or know about and surprised you in the Euroleague?
A: What’s different compared to other seasons is the players’ market. I mean the transfers made, even after the season started, as was the case with Facu. I think these circumstances keep popping up over the years and the teams are constantly adapting to them.
Q: In the conversations you had with Facundo Campazzo – before and after he announced that he was going to make the leap to the NBA – which piece of advice or information did you give him and what was that he wanted to know more than anything?
A: Facu is my friend. He is a very curious person and I really gave him my perspective, my view of what the NBA is. But he is prepared. I believe that he is the best player in Europe in order to get to the NBA and surprise everyone. So, the first thing I did was wish him all the success in the world. The fact that he pursues his dreams is an example to many people.
Q: Apart from the presence of Ginòbili, what was the mark that the NBA has left in you? To what extent has it been an experience that enriched you as a player?
A: Having been a teammate of Manu and Garino was a spectacular, unforgettable experience. My NBA stint put me on another level. Not many people expected it, but I really wanted to be in that league. I was looking forward to making my debut, playing in the best league, with the best players in the world. I would have liked to stay a little bit longer, but today I am in a great place, where I always wanted to be. So, the NBA was a step that I made and now I watch it on TV.