Nikolas Raivio is a 32 year old 192cm shooting guard that was born in Antwerpen, Belgium and has the Germanand American citzenships. He is the brother of former BBL player Derek Raivio and will play his first season in Germany with medi Bayreuth. He played the last three seasons with Legnano Basket Knights (Italy-Serie A2) and last season played 33 games averaging 18.2ppg, 6.8rpg, 3.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.6%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 81.1%. He also played two seasons in Hungry as well as in countries like Greece, Sweden and Belgium. He also had a stint in the D-league with the New Mexico Thunderbirds. He played college ball at Portland (NCAA) and in his senior year played 17 games averaging 14.0ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 42.5%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 63.2%. He spoke to Germanhoops.com earlier in the summer about basketball.
Nik thanks for talking to Germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your summer?
I’m well, thanks. At the moment I’m still in Italy and will spend most of the summer here
Congrats on signing with German team medi Bayreuth. You’re going into your ninth professional season and played in countries like Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Greece. Brother Derek played for some years in Germany. With your connections and game can you explain why it took you so long to finally play for a German team?
Thanks and I really don’t know. I’ve had interest in the past from the BBL but I never saw an offer. I also liked my situation the previous seasons and decided early on to stay instead of waiting to explore other options
Your father played a game in Bayreuth 32 years ago. What does it truly mean playing for medi Bayreuth and being there where your dad once played as a professional player?
Pretty crazy to think about that. I imagine my brother played in the same gym too.
Joining Bayreuth is a completely new experience for me. I heard great things about the team, coach and club and can see they have a lot of home court support from fans. To keep the winning ways going in the BBL and European competition is something I’m really excited about!
You have the German citizenship which made you a very popular commodity for German teams. Explain why you have the German citizenship and your brother Derek doesn´t?
To make a long story short, all of my family members are able to have citizenship. My grandmother is German and moved to the states when she was young. She misplaced some of my mom’s important citizenship documents and found them this winter while cleaning out her home. When we looked into citizenship in the past we didn’t have all of the necessary paperwork. Once my mom got ahold of the documents this winter, which showed she had been a citizen since a teenager, she applied for her passport. She got it immediately and I was right after
How vital was head coach Raoul Korner for you coming to Bayreuth. Did his reputation of being a very good coach and being able to make players better signal to you that you can still get better at the ripe age of 32?
Well when I spoke with Coach about the team and what he was searching for I knew I could be a good fit. I spoke with an ex player who had great things to say about coach, the team and living situation and immediately I knew I would like to be a part of that.Yeah, 32 is not young but I think every player is different and peaks at different ages. My last couple seasons have been my best and I look forward to keep improving. I don’t have the same room to grow as a rookie but I can improve some details and continue polishing up some weaker areas.
Let’s talk a bout your game. You’re a very good shooter as well a very good rebounder for your size. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would you chose?
Really I don’t know. I see myself as a competitor and good all around player. You’d have to ask my coach or a teammate!
At the moment you’re on a very good streak having shot 40% or better from outside the last four seasons in Italy and Hungary. How confident are you that you will keep this streak alive despite playing in a more competitive league?
I’m confident I can shoot well anywhere. I just try to focus on the basics (quick release, follow through, etc) and know if I do those things there’s a good chance it’s going in
Your ex teammate Michael Jenkins at Liege stated this about you in your rookie season. “ His rebounding isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of him as a player. What I remember most was how much of a complete player he was. He was a terrific scorer, he could defend, he could rebound, he could pass, and he was physically strong. I really enjoyed having him as a teammate. How do you feel has your game matured over the years?
Mike was someone I looked up to and respected. He was talented and worked hard every practice. It’s no surprise to me that he’s doing so well! In college I would say I was more of just a scorer. I think the last 3 years I’ve made the most improvement as far as being a well rounded player and making the right decisions.
You played the last three seasons for Legnano Basket Knights (Italy-Serie A2). You put up big time stats in a league that is considered as one of the best second division leagues in Europe. What was your fondest memories playing for this team? You must have had some special ones since you never played for a team that long in your career?
Italy and Legnano was great. I loved it there. I played for the same coach all 3 years and we had a good amount of the team stay during that time. The first year we lost a lot of close games and finished near the bottom. The last two seasons we made a big jump and finished 3rd overall both seasons. There were many special moments during my time there but making it to the cup and then playoffs the last two years were the biggest accomplishments
Did you build up a special bond with American William Mosley who belonged to the best rebounders for years in the Italy Serie A2.Is he another one of those special players ready to make the next step up the ladder?
Will and I got along really well and played great together. He was an easy guy to play with. He never complained about anything, played great defense and could catch and finish almost anything above the rim. He’s really made a name for himself in Italy and if a team from a higher level takes a chance on him they’ll be glad they did!
As a rookie you played briefly for Belgacom Liege Basket (Belgium-D1) and finished in the D-League. You have always put up very good stats, but played in lower leagues in Hungary and Italy. Do you feel like your game has been under the radar or do feel like teams in higher leagues just haven´t given you a real shot over the years to display your abilities?
I’ve always been a late bloomer but I wouldn’t say under the radar. I had a good opportunity my rookie season I didn’t take advantage of which set me back
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Belgium where you knew that you were very far away from home in Washington?
I played for a good Belgian team, also in the Eurochallenge. I was homesick right away my first year and was still getting adjusted to the European game and life overseas. Instead of sticking it out and being patient I chose to come back home before Christmas. It was a mistake and big learning experience. After a second chance and some good seasons in Hungary and Italy I had interest from higher leagues, actually also back in Belgium but I chose to stay where I was. I improved each year and am thankful to have the chance to give my best in Bayreuth.
With the New Mexico Thunderbirds you played 20 games averaging 5.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.1apg, 3PT-3(46.9%). You had some very good games against Santa Cruz and Austin. What overall memories do you have of this experience?
I remember we played a lot of games and there was a lot of travel. It was much different than a European league which usually plays once a week. The competition was really good and we played against a lot of guys who came from or went to the NBA. The practices were competitive and it was a great place to improve and work on weak points.
Your older brother is Derek who had a long career in Europe as well. Talk a little about the brother relationship and how did you benefit most from the advice he gave you?
He was always a big help and still is even though he no longer plays. He gives advice from his experience overseas and was the perfect workout partner. Every summer we worked a lot on skill work and played a lot of competitive 1v1 or 2v2 games which helped me make big improvements.
You played your college career at Portland(NCAA). You reached the WCC semi-finals twice. What were your fondest memories there?
I have a lot of great memories from my time in Portland! I played close to home and was part of a group which brought the program back near the top of the WCC. I had a lot of great teammates too and many are doing well professionally.
You played three seasons there with 2018 easyCRedit BBL MVP Luke Sikma. What do you remember about his development then and why isn´t a guy like that in the NBA?
I remember Luke was always good, even from his first year and then made a big jump his last year. He was much more athletic than he showed and he had a good sense for always being around the ball. He was fun to play with because he was unselfish and a great passer too. As far as the NBA I haven’t been following it like I have in the past, but I can see he’s put together some great years and still has a lot of seasons left at any level. We will see him soon in Germany!
How did head coach Eric Reveno groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
During my time in college we never thought too far ahead. We were always preparing for the next game or trying to work on some weak points. Coach Reveno was a great guy. As a coach he had his system, was very organized and disciplined. He was great at teaching the correct habits to a player and then drilling them over and over. Many of those lessons and habits have stuck with me to this day.
Who wins a one on one in practice you or your brother Derek?
We played a lot of 1on1 growing up and he would usually beat me. Around the time I was finishing college I finally was able to hold my own and we went back and forth. We played more 2on2 because when we played alone against each other we would usually end in a fight/argument.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Gonzaga always had great players. I did a summer workout with Paul George after college and he was impressive.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
Hah actually I did see Black Panther…Besides that I usually watch online series. Dexter, Narcos and Game of Thrones are some of the recent ones.
Thanks Nik for the chat.