Pelicans 2021 preseason profile: Tomas Satoransky
As a youngster growing up in the Czech Republic, Tomas Satoransky dreamed of someday playing in the NBA, but he never imagined getting a chance to participate in the Olympics. Given that his native country had never qualified for the Summer Games in men’s basketball, becoming one of 450 NBA players in the league somehow seemed more realistic.
Satoransky fulfilled a lifelong goal in 2016, when he made his official NBA debut for Washington, after being drafted by the Wizards four years earlier. To his amazement, in 2021 he helped lead the Czech Republic to an Olympic berth, knocking off higher-ranked countries along the way. A nation of just 10.7 million people – roughly the same population as North Carolina – the Czech Republic appearing on the prestigious world stage for the first time was cause for a raucous party.
“It was a lot of euphoria and excitement, celebrating with my teammates,” Satoransky said. “Going to the Olympics was unreal, (to the point) where you didn’t really realize until after the Olympics that we had done it. It was really something to remember.”
The Czech Republic opened Olympic competition with a win over Iran, before being eliminated with defeats to powerful teams from France and the United States. The 6-foot-7 point guard notched 12 points, six rebounds and eight assists vs. Team USA, but the basketball specifics are secondary in his memories of the trip.
“Playing in the Olympics was an opportunity I never expected to happen to me,” he said. “My dream come true was always going to the NBA, but I never expected the Czech Republic national team to play in the Olympics. I enjoyed every part of it. Of course, there were restrictions (related to the pandemic), but that didn’t take that excitement away from me.”
Coincidentally, Satoransky was on a flight home from the Olympics when he learned he’d been traded from Chicago to New Orleans. In addition to having extensive international playing experience, Satoransky has always been a reliable role player over his five-year NBA career, excelling in assist-to-turnover ratio (3-to-1), three-point shooting (37 percent career) and foul shooting (82 percent career). He’s started in roughly half of his 333 career games and was a key reserve for back-to-back playoff teams in Washington.
“He brings size and versatility at the guard position,” Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said of the summer pickup. “Also a defensive presence and willingness to share the ball. He’s a high-character, good teammate.”