Petteri Koponen Watch: Great Success! Edition

Busta BucketCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2010

Hippo The Great has provided us with the latest on Petteri Koponen. The news is good this time, The Finnagler is tearing paska up and the Blazers haven't forgotten about him after all. The latest Koponen highlights can be found here and here . Voi kyrpä!

2 010 has been a very good year for Petteri Koponen so far.

We all already know how the first three months of 2009/10 season went for the Finnish point guard. He started the season with moderate stats, got called out by his team owner, and after that simply took over the game while accepting combo guard duties more and more often.

The week before Christmas, veteran point guard Scoonie Penn left Koponen's Virtus Bologna because Virtus' guard Andre Collins finally came back after being absent for three months because of an injury. While Penn wasn't much of a scorer, Andre Collins is more of a Brandon Roy-type player, who can both create plays for others and score whenever a bucket is needed. Alongside Collins, Koponen has been flourishing.

Collins came back a month ago, Dec. 20. He seemed a bit rusty that day when Virtus suffered a last-second defeat to Armani Jeans Milano, 78-80. Collins spent the Christmas break pretty much rehabbing and, even though he's still a bit slow compared to last season, he has already made things much easier for Koponen.

Need evidence? Well, everybody has seen already that Koponen can score—he's been very reliable in December and early January from both inside and outside. Last season, Koponen specialized as an on-ball defender, and he has been excellent on the defensive end so far this season. The one thing that has been raising eyebrows has been Koponen's Assist+Steal/Turnover records, which aren't going the way they should be going for a guard.

Now that Collins has taken pressure off Koponen, we've seen steady rise in his ast+st/to-numbers. Here's a small comparison:

KOPONEN IN 9 GAMES WITH PENN: Ast 1,45 Stl 1,45 To 2,00 Ast/To 0,722 Stl/To 0,722

KOPONEN IN 4 GAMES WITH COLLINS: Ast 2,50 Stl 1,50 To 0,50 Ast/To 2,000 Stl/To 1,200

A week ago, Koponen had to leave the game against Scavolini Pesaro early because of a twisted ankle, but he managed to net 10 points (FG 4-5), one assist, two steals, and one turnover in only 25 minutes in an 82-80 victory. Last Sunday, Koponen was the MVP of the game when Virtus Bologna destroyed Euroleague team (and Brandon Jennings' old club) Lottomatica Roma 81-61. Koponen had 16 points (FG 6-10), three rebounds, three assists, two steals and one turnover and he was clearly the best player on the court when Virtus Bologna went on their decisive 20-0 run in second quarter.

And yet another stat comparison:

Koponen, first 5 games of the season: Min 23,4 Pts 6,2 Reb 2,8 Ast 2,0 Stl 0,6 To 1,8 2p 30,0% 3p 33,3% Ft 80,0%

Koponen, last 8 games of the season: Min 30,1 Pts 13,9 Reb 2,1 Ast 1,6 Stl 2,0 To 1,8 2p 67,9% 3p 46,4% Ft 66,7%

It's also worth noticing, that in Serie A's +/- statistics, Koponen is eighth in the whole league and the first player of the league in that category outside the players in league-leading Siena.

And oh yes, Koponen himself confirms that Portland Trailblazers' scouts have been very active in Italy so far this season. Rumors from Italy  that there are also some other NBA clubs trying to snatch the Finnish Wunderkid. Next weekend Koponen has the possibility to roam against the best of 'em, when last year's Serie A champion, undefeated Montepaschi Siena, hosts Virtus Bologna.