This past weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to Sioux Falls Skyforce forward Martin Krampelj and ask him a few questions.
Krampelj grew up in Slovenia but attended High School and College in America. Krampelj played at Creighton University where he started his entire redshirt sophomore and junior season. In his redshirt junior season, Krampelj averaged 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. This high level of play earned him Honorable Mention All-Big East. After a great season, Krampelj opted out of his final season of eligibility to enter the 2019 NBA draft.
Unfortunately, Krampelj went undrafted. Nevertheless, he was talented enough to land a spot with the Denver Nuggets summer league team.
However, Shortly after, Krampelj went back overseas and signed a contract with Cedevita Olimpija, a basketball club in Slovenia.
After bouncing around a few international teams, Krampelj decided to come back to America to continue pursuing the goal of reaching the NBA. In October of 2021, the Sioux Falls Skyforce (The G League affiliate of the Miami Heat) picked up Krampelj from the available player pool. In his first season with the Skyforce, Krampelj averaged 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. Krampelj is one of the most efficient bigs in the G League, putting up these stats in just 19.5 minutes of action per game.
Q: Do people in Slovenia follow the NBA, despite most games being in the middle of the night? If yes, who was your favorite player?
A: People definitely follow the NBA in Slovenia. Luka Doncic brought it to another level. People wake up and have watch parties! I used to wake up for playoff games when I was younger and I loved watching Goran Dragic play!
Q: Why did you decide to leave America to pursue a professional career in Europe and why did you come back? Was the plan always to come back?
A: I played in Europe and I loved it. I just wanted to give it another go to get better and improve my skills as a player! The G League is a perfect place to do just that and that’s why I decided to come back and play in the G league
Q: The ultimate goal is to obviously make it to the NBA. What is the struggle of trying to be picked up by a G League team and then trying to be recognized by an NBA team for a chance to earn a 10-day contract? What has this process looked like for you over the course of your career? What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
A: Of course, the ultimate goal is to make it to the NBA and I work for it every day. The reality is that a lot of things have to fall in the right place for me to be called up and I think I deserve a chance. I’ve always strived to be great on the court and off the court. It wasn’t hard to come here and play because I know what kind of level this is. The G League is tough and it’s a “dog fight”. The biggest challenge was just acclimating to a new town, new coach, and new teammates but other than that it wasn’t a big deal since I had spent 4 years at Creighton University.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between international basketball and NBA basketball?
A: I think the rules of basketball. In the NBA, even the court is bigger. I also love the pace of the games in the NBA, I think it makes it more interesting for fans to watch. Obviously, I wasn’t in the NBA to know exactly, but the G League is pretty close with all the frames of NBA rules.
Q: You are a do it all big. You can defend the rim, shoot the 3, and slam at home. What do you think is the strongest part of your game? Additionally, the NBA G League is a place for development. What part of your game do you want to improve the most while you’re with the Sioux Falls Skyforce and how would this skill help you at the NBA level?
A: I think the strongest part is that I play with intention and energy. It’s always hard to match someone if they give more energy. I like to play defense and I try to be as best as I can to be in the right spot in the offense. I’m not worried about scoring and I like getting my teammates open shots and good screens. I want to be more consistent with my offensive game and make shots more consistently. So I’ve been working on being consistent with my shot-making. I think I have what it takes, just needs a little bit of sharpening.
Martin is well on his way to making the NBA. Thank you so much to Martin Krampelj for these fantastic responses. I encourage all fans to support their local G League team and try to attend games because the talent there is truly remarkable.