Former lottery pick Nikoloz Tskitishvili looking to make NBA comeback
Georgian power forward Nikoloz Tskitishvili is hoping to rewrite history.
Tskitishvili was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the fifth overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Standing at 7-feet, with the speed to run in transition and a smooth jumpshot, Tskitishvili had all the makings of a high-upside prospect.
But Tskitishvili couldn't put any of it together. He went on to flame out, dropping out of the NBA by the age of 22. Across 172 games, Tskitishvili averaged 2.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game while being ravened by injuries.
He went down as one of the biggest busts in NBA history and his name became a cautionary tale for teams drafting relatively unheralded international players.
However, a decade after his last NBA season, the 32-year-old forward is hoping for a second chance to make an improbable comeback, Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post reports.
"If I could get a chance to show that it was not a mistake ..." Tskitishvili said.
"I'm 100 times better than I was. It's just very difficult for teams to understand that, because they are looking at the number, the age. If you ask me, this is the best shape I've ever been in and the best I've been playing in my career."
Tskitishvili was in Las Vegas this summer, hoping a team would give him another chance. If he had his choice, he'd play for the Nuggets.
However, Tskitishvili hasn't found much permanency outside the NBA, either. Since 2006, he has bounced around the international circuit, playing professionally in Spain, Italy, Greece, Iran, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.
Tskitishvili did find a modicum of success in 2012-13 while playing with Champville from Lebanon's Division A. In 27 games, he averaged 17.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks.
Granted, there's a huge difference in the level of competition between Lebanon and the NBA, but all Tskitishvili wants is a second chance.
"If someone were to give me an opportunity, I'm so sure, I'm so confident that I can play," he asserts.