Pavel Podkolzin spent most of his basketball career overseas but the limited time he spent in the NBA, he spent it as part of the Dallas Mavericks.
Early Basketball Career
Podkolzin started playing basketball when he was young and was even part of the junior Russian national basketball team in 2000. The team won the silver medal in the 2000 European Cadets Championship.
The following year he joined Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, commonly known as Sibirtelecom Lokomotiv a second-division Russian basketball club. He was still a teenager when he joined the team.
In late 2001, he signed with Metis Varese, a first-division Italian professional basketball club. Podkolzin played on the team from 2002 to 2004.
Podkolzin Joins the Mavericks
Podkolzin was drafted 21st overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2004 NBA Draft. He was immediately traded over to the Mavericks. Podkolzin had originally declared for the prior year’s draft but withdrew due to a pituitary disorder.
His Mavericks tenure was filled with very limited playing time. Podkolzin was one of the biggest names in the draft and was expected to be taken as a lottery pick. Scouts loved how tall he was, 7’ 5”, even though opinions on his basketball skills varied dramatically, depending on who you asked.
Podkolzin finished his time in Europe and had surgery to help fix his pituitary gland disorder, then he was ready to suit up for the Mavs. In his first season with the team, the 20-year-old only played in five games, all of them coming off the bench at the very end. It was not a good sign that the team showed a lack of confidence in his basketball abilities, even if it was just his first year in the league. In his five games played with the team, he scored just one point, which happened in his second outing. In that same amount of time he also only grabbed two boards, garnered two turnovers, and got called for four personal fouls. Even with Podkolzin’s very limited help the Mavericks still ended up being a strong team in the West, finishing the season as the fourth seed in the conference with a 58-24 record. They took down the Houston Rockets in seven games before getting eliminated in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in six games. Podkolzin didn’t take part in any of the playoff games.
His second season wasn’t any better. Before the season even started Podkolzin had to have surgery for a right foot stress fracture, a surgery that kept him out for months. He returned to the team in March, but upon his return, he was sent down to their D-League team, the Fort Worth Flyers. He played in 13 games with the Flyers where he averaged 5.9 points per game (PPG), 5.2 rebounds per game (RPG), 0.5 assists per game (APG), and 0.8 blocks per game (BPG).
He did get to see some playing time with the Mavericks, in the final game of the season. In 18 minutes of playing time, Podkolzin put up three points, seven rebounds, and one block. The Mavericks had another great season, again finishing fourth in the West, this time with a 60-22 record. Dallas swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round before taking down their rival, the San Antonio Spurs, in seven games. They got their revenge on the Suns in the Western Conference Finals when they took them down in six games, which led to the Mavericks’ first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history. In the Finals, the Mavs faced the Miami Heat, a series that saw the Mavericks lose in six games after taking a 2-0 series lead. Podkolzin didn’t appear in any of the team’s playoff games.
Podkolzin joined the Mavericks for summer league but his skills on the court weren’t improving. Before the season started the team had to make a decision, keep Podkolzin as the final man on the roster or cut ties with him. The Mavs chose the latter and waived him on August 4, 2006.
Unfortunately, Podkolzin’s time as a Maverick didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded him. Injuries and lack of improvement on the court were Podkolzin’s ultimate downfall in the NBA. In his two seasons with the Mavericks, he played in only six games with the team and averaged 0.7 PPG, 1.5 RPG, and 1.5 APG.
Return to Overseas
After his stint in the NBA Podkolzin returned back overseas and continued his basketball career.
He joined the Khimki BC of the Russian Basketball Super League. He played eight games with the team and averaged 3.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 0.3 BPG.
He then returned to his former club, Lokomotiv. He played with them from 2007 to 2010.
He then spent a season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Basketball Super League.
He returned for a third stint with Lokomotiv from 2011 til 2014.
In 2014 Podkolzin joined Altai Basket briefly.
He returned to Lokomotiv that same year and stayed until 2016.
He then joined PSK Sakhalin of the Russian Basketball League. His stay on that team was also very short, lasting one season.
He finally ended his basketball career as part of the Universitet Yugra Surgut of the Russian Basketball Super League. The 2018-19 season was the final year he played.
Podkolizn’s legacy is filled with a very short NBA tenure, being one of the tallest players in NBA history standing at 7’ 5”, and over a decade’s worth of playing time overseas. His NBA career was hampered by injuries, the inability to grow as a basketball player, and not being able to adapt to the NBA style of play. Although he had some success playing overseas, he never lived up to the potential that some scouts and NBA fans saw in him.