Nick Calathes recalls spectacular 3-point shooting, reacts to PAO situation

Donatas Urbonas
Senior Staff Writer
2022-11-22 11:00

A career-high 54.5% 3-point shooter Nick Calathes gives credit to his new coach Dimitris Itoudis and assistants who worked on his shot recently.

Credit: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Scottie Wilbekin ran a pick-and-roll on top of the key with Johnathan Motley, who rolled inside the paint. Nate Wolters jumped in to help, leaving Nick Calathes wide open on the 45'. 

Wilbekin read the situation and delivered a quick pass to Calathes. Wolters tried to recover, but Calathes showed no hesitation. He loaded his gun and launched a 3-point shot. The three-ball went in, as most of his attempts this season.

Calathes ranks 6th in assists (6 APG), 11th in steals (1.4 SPG), is the best rebounding guard in the league (4.8 RPG), and makes the Top 25 most efficient players list (13.9 PIR) with the lowest scoring average among the group (9.1 PPG).

Nick Calathes

Nick  Calathes
Team: Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Position: PG
Age: 33
Height: 198 cm
Weight: 97 kg
Birth place: United States of America

That's a typical Nick Calathes stat line we got used to through his 11-year EuroLeague career.

But nobody saw that coming.

Calathes ranks 7th in the EuroLeague by 3-point shot percentage after Round 8.

Eight games into the season, he makes 1.5 threes on average and has connected 54.5% of his 3-pointers so far.

Last year in Barcelona, he averaged 0.7 threes on 31.7% shooting.

His previous career high was 35.3% in the championship season with Panathinaikos (2010-11). He was over 30% shooter in 4 of his 10 EuroLeague seasons.

It's still a small sample size. But nobody saw such an improvement except Nick.

"I think it will be better this year than it was the last year. I just have a feeling that it will come," Calathes said to Turkish sports television S Sport before the season.

"I just shoot with confidence," Calathes explained in an interview with BasketNews.

He made 12 threes in the first eight games for the first time in his EuroLeague career.

"I think the coach believes in me. When I'm open, he wants me to shoot," Calathes, a 29.6% career 3-point shooter, gave credit to a new Fenerbahce head coach Dimitris Itoudis.

"I've been working hard. Much respect for Rado (Radovan Trifunovic), our assistant coach, who works with me every day before practice to get me comfortable. I hope I can keep knocking them down and shooting with confidence."

Credit Imago Images - Scanpix

Calathes hit at least one three in 7 of 8 games this season.

He made 3 of 4 in a win vs. Maccabi, the most since 2021 October 15.

One NBA person also helped him to build this confidence. The Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff member Josh Oppenheimer assisted Nick individually during their stint with the Greek National Team this summer.

"I shot a lot in the national team. We did a lot of work with Josh. When Giannis was shooting, I would come and shoot," Calathes added.

"But it's about feeling comfortable. Hopefully, I can keep making," Calathes concluded.

In a preseason interview with S Sport, Calathes mentioned that he would be an NBA player if he was a 50% three-point shooter.

Now he belongs to a 9-man elite club of EuroLeague players that hit more than 50% of their threes.

"I wish I were 8 years younger," Calathes laughed. "But for me, it's about winning."

"I'm happy that I'm playing for Fenerbahce. Coach, players, I think we have a very good roster with a bunch of good guys. We don't have any d********. Everyone wants to get better. We'll keep improving," he said.

Marko Guduric stole the ball and started a fast break. He delivered it to Calathes, who didn't make a single bounce to send a no-look over-should pass to Tonye Jekiri.

He hammered the rim and put a sell-out Fenerbahce crowd on their feet. 

The stands roared for the Fenerbahce game vs. Panathinaikos as it was an act of art.

Late in the game, fans started chanting Dimitris Itoudis' name. The head coach stood up from his chair, waved them back to show appreciation, but gestured to praise the on-court performers.

Fenerbahce tops the EuroLeague with a 7-1 record and deserves every credit.

"We have a lot of great guys who know how to play. I think what's good for us is that we have a deep bench. At any given point, people can step up. Like Carsen (Edwards) tonight. He didn't play the last game, but he comes in, brings energy, and scores 12 points," Calathes explained early Fener's success.

"I think we've handled business at home. But it's a long way to go. We have some tough games coming up, we'll see where we are at," he continued.

So far, Calathes is orchestrating the most efficient EuroLeague team.

Fenerbahce ranks 1st by the offensive rating and 2nd by the defensive rating, according to BBallytics.

"I feel great," Calathes recalled.

"I feel all the guys are easy to play with. Obviously, Scottie is very easy. I think we play great together. Motley is playing unbelievably and having a great season start. I know Nigel (Hayes-Davis) very well, Book (Devin Booker)… It's very easy to play with these guys. I know I can still learn something because we have many new guys. But I look forward to building game by game and getting better. I feel like we know we can do better. I know that's a good thing about our team."

Nick Calathes is free and happy again, running the show.

That's something that the EuroLeague MVP award contender Mike James saw coming.

"I think Nick was probably the worst fit I've seen in Barcelona," James said on the URBONUS podcast during the offseason. "He looked like he was miserable. He looked like he wasn't having fun. Having played with Nick for two years and knowing how he is…  It wasn't just the same Nick Calathes I'm used to looking at every day. He cracks jokes, always smiling, [a player] running up and down the court that can always get you a triple-double."

"I think Itoudis is less about the system and more about the players he has and how to make it work. If he goes to Fener with [Nemanja] Bjelica and Scottie [Wilbekin] – two great shooters, Nick is going to thrive. Anything up-tempo where he has shooters, and if they have a lob threat, Nick will be a perfect person," James concluded.

The EuroLeague champion keeps low-key after an inspiring start of his new chapter with Fenerbahce.

He knows very well early season success doesn't necessarily translate into the season finale, where it's all about the titles.

"It doesn't mean anything. It's going to be ups and downs, as always, in the season. We're going to lose two in a row. I hope not, but it's part of the season. So we have to build to bounce back," Calathes said to BasketNews. "We have a lot of young guys that haven't played in the EuroLeague much, like Motley or Carsen. They don't know this grind. So you have to stay consistent. When it gets to that point down the road in March, we want to be a solid and good team that can reach its potential."

After a blowout win vs. Panathinaikos 107-77, Calathes also shared his thoughts on his former team.

When Calathes left Athens in 2020, Panathinaikos were out of the playoff race in the last two years.

They're still having difficulty starting the season with a 2-6 record.

"Obviously, it's been up and down for them. I thought they did a great job bringing coach Radonjic. I have a lot of respect for him," Calathes told BasketNews. "I think if he actually gets a chance to build a system there, you can see what he did in Red Star. He can do something and build something. They did a great job bringing the coach. I think the roster is good. I think they just need to play more together and get better and better."


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