Whic -ic is whic
There's a lot of itches in this draft, many of that late declarers and little known but quite talented.
Eastern Europe/Former Yugoslavia has a really impressive development pipeline. All of the guys from that area get great all around fundamental skill development and play winning selfless team basketball.
Here are a few quick write-ups of these guys, most of whom I never heard of until they declared for the draft.
You guys already know about Dario Saric, probable lottery pick. 6'10" hyper-competitive jack of all trades Magic Johnson worshipper, and Adriatic League champion and MVP. He compares best to a more athletic Kyle Anderson with less (all important) length.
You also probably know something about Jusuf Nurkic, the 19 year old newcomer to the game who is 6'11", 280 pounds and growing. I won't get into him too much as you might have already heard me place him in the discussion for pick #5, but more likely a top 15 pick in a weak draft for centers. Little verticality but lots of promise as a back-to-the-basket scorer, monster rebounder, free throw shooter, and likely development of a weaponized "jump" shot.
Nikola Jokic (pronounced ya-kitch) is another 19 year old big man, a 6'11" 255 lb PF/C with a great 7'3" wingspan and 9'3" standing reach, measured last month at the Nike Hoops Summit. Like Kelly Olynyk, this kid grew up as a point guard until a growth spurt, and in some ways Jokic looks like a very similar prospect to Kelly Olynyk, who I think is going to continue breaking out in a big way as a big scorer in the NBA next season.
Jokic is four full years younger than Olynyk, so it's easy to think he will climb up the draft charts from his current mid-second round status. Last month at the Nike Hoops Summit, Jokic pretty much held his own with Karl Towns, Okafor, and the other elite young bigs in attendance. He's not nearly as athletic as those guys, but he moves his feet, plays smart defense without fouling much, sets up his teammates with elite passing ability for a PF/C, scores with his back to the basket, and most impressively and Olynyk-like, he spreads the floor with an excellent 3 point shot.
Here is a quick highlight tape of his performance last month at the Hoops Summit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyxoJbtk4Ro
He really seems to fit into the mold of the Marc Gasol, Brad Daugherty, Vlade Divac type of super smart, versatile, great passing, floor spreading centers.
Before you laugh, recall that Marc Gasol was a late bloomer who was drafted in the mid-second round even though he started to show some flashes in the year before his draft:
At just 19 years old and already 255 pounds and plenty long, Jokic will gain more strength quickly and easily in the next few years. Here is the full game of the Nike Hoops Summit, where you can watch Jokic against the best young bigs in the US including Okafor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgzgm1DCEaQ Jokic comes off the bench for Towns, so you'll have to skip ahead a few minutes. Jokic doesn't get a lot of touches in this guard dominated game, but you can tell he holds his own and plays intelligently and with restraint foul-wise.
Here is a full game tape of Nikola Jokic playing in the Adriatic League with projected second round pg Vasilije Micic, against borderline first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0ocGGdkym8
Skip to 14:05 for an example of Jokic's ability and potential scoring off the dribble from the perimeter, like the former point guard he is. I don't think he's quite as quick and nimble off the dribble as Olynyk, but he's got a much better body for the center position, and much longer arms than Olynyk. At 255 lbs already, Jokic should get up to 265 quickly and easily without losing any quickness, but he could carry 280 if he ever wants to go beefcake like Pekovic or Brook Lopez.
I see a lot of potential here as a stand-out all around center, with some versatility go match up against bigger PFs. If he falls to the Spurs at the end of round one, they could have themselves a pretty solid poor-man's Tim Duncan for the future, whether they bring him over now or let him continue to develop in the excellent Adriatic League.
Bogdan Bogdanovic- I suggest you watch the Adriatic League game I posted two paragraphs up, where BB faces off against fellow future NBA player Micic. They are the two starting PGs in this game, even though they are both SG size in the NBA. Not every team wants PG skills in a SG body, but that's what both of these guys bring. Micic compares to Kendall Marshall, the top 15 pick who fell out of the league but came back with some success on the Lakers this year.
But Bogdanovic looks like the better prospect, as he is 6'6+" with a huge 6'11" wingspan and excellent 8'8"+ standing reach. This was Bogdanovic's first season as a point guard, forced into the situation by an injury to his teammate. Before this year, Bogdanovic was known as a good overall player but more of a sharpshooter. He has a full assortment of scoring moves from all over the court, and effortless range out to about 25 feet.
Bogdanovic suprised many by stepping right into the PG role and performing so well so quickly. He has great handles for a 6'6"+ guy, and his vision and passing are absolutely excellent, as you'll notice early and often in the game posted above. He may not be as flamboyant a passer as Dario Saric, but I would put him in the same general category of passer. Part of the reason Bogdanovic isn't being talked about much as an oversized point like Saric and Kyle Anderson is because Bogdanovic only started playing that role this year. I wouldn't say BB has Anderson's dribbling polish or court vision, but he's not too too far behind and can grow even more with more ball handling and playmaking responsibilities in the NBA.
BB's athleticism doesn't blow you away, but neither does Rodney Hood's or even James Young, and BB brings more as a ball handler and much more as a passer at this point while, while posessing just as much scoring versatility as those two swingman. Like Hood, BB is 21 years old, so in that sense James Young has more room for growth.
What really interests me about BB, aside from his incredibly polished and well rounded game, is the fact that he can likely play and play well at the SF position in the NBA, where his athleticism will be closer to average than below average like it is for the SG position.
Bogdanovic is absolutely a guy you can run an offense through, especially from the SF position as a point forward.Too soon to tell if BB will be a career backup as a scorer/facilitator, whether he'll be an average starter at SG, or whether he'll be an above average starting point forward type in the Paul Pierce or Ginobli mode. But the guy can play and I'm very high on him.
Here's his highlights from this past season:
Here is a more extensive highlight tape from this season for Bogdanovic:
He's a whole lot like Stauskas, same height at 6'6", with great dribbling and passing skills, although Stauskas is the more consistent 3pt shooter. But BB is quite a bit longer than Stauskas, and may be 6'7" tall by some reports.
What's nuts is that the elite measurements BB posted were from 2010, when he was 17 years old, almost 18.
So not only is he potentially 6'7" in shoes, but his wingspan is probably a full 7' as opposed to 6'11.07". And his standing reach might be a full 8'9", as opposed to the 8'8.33" recorded in 2010. One thing I've noticed is that wingspan tends to continue to grow a half inch to an inch after vertical growth stops.
He might be within a half inch of height to Andrew Wiggins, (since I'm not sure Wiggins is a full 6'8") with the same wingspan. Obviously Wiggins is the superior athlete by far, but Bogdanovic has a more complete skill set with better court vision.
Just saying he's a legit first round prospect who compares well with any shooting guard outside the top 6 picks.
Kid can flat out Bogdan
Dario Saric, Josuf Nurkic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Vasilije Micic, Nikola Jokic will all most likely be drafted and I see a lot of them being solid contributors in the NBA. Marko Ramljak could be one of those "who?" type picks in the second round; he withdrew from the draft last year but he reported that Houston was highly interested in him (second round my guess) so don't be surprised if he gets scooped there. Lots of young Yugoslavian talent. There hasn't been this much since the 90s.
This is the same Adriatic game I posted above: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0ocGGdkym8 Check out Nikola Jokic's face up at 58:35. Very comfortable handle for a PF/C, he uses a nice crossover to get a lane to the basket, then uses a nice spin move when his lane closes, setting up the graceful fading baby hook. Like Olynyk, he's going to be able to get these shots off all day in the NBA, and it's pretty nice to have a center you can go to in iso from the perimeter. If Embiid pulled this move against Western Backwoods State University or whatever, ESPN would go nuts.
Bogdanovic Reminds me alot of Ginobli I hope San Antonio drafts him.
He reminds me of Klay Thompson, with a better wingspan and passing but slightly worse 3pt shot.
Bogdanovic also posted a 36" (35.8") max vert in 2010, while Thompson's recorded max vert as his combine was 31.5".
Bog isnt really beating anyone of the dribble in these highlights. He gets to the rim because he is obviously quite strong, but this worries me because I'm not sure he'll be able to bully his way into the lane in the league against bigger, quicker wings. He looks like a pretty good shooter, so I'm sure that will get him a spot on a team, but I'm not sure what to think of him.
He's got tight handles and is a threat to fire away from anywhere within 25-26 feet, even with a hand in his face. To put his 8'9" standing reach in perspective, it's only 3" less than Anthony Davis'. Gary Harris this week will measure a 8'3.5" or 8'4" standing reach.
Most guards are going to have to play him very close, which opens up enough room for Bog to move toward the rim, keeping the ball far outside his body and away from the defender. He probably won't be like a young DWade where you just clear out one side of the court for him to go iso, but he really brings a well balanced set of skills and tools to the table. To me he's Klay Thompson with better passing and pg skills and a slightly less deadly 3 point shot. Shooting 35+% putting up 6 threes a game from the deep FIBA 3 point line while handling point guard responsibilities for the very first time is simply absurd.
By comparison, Jabari Parker shot the same % on half as many 3's from the much shorter college 3pt line, in 14 less games, without any pg duties or hardly looking to pass at all. Projecting Bogdanovic's perimeter shooting to the NBA is pretty straightforward, because he shot so well on such high volume over 48 games, while often shooting from deeper than the NBA 3pt line, while burdened with full time pg duties for 30+ mpg.
Projecting these US college kids NBA 3pt success is much trickier, since most of them shot much fewer 3's in college, from a much closer distance, in much fewer games, with very mixed results. Guys like Garnett and Bass are masters of the 20 footer, but lose all accuracy from the NBA 3.
Bogdanovic might not be too flashy besides his bombs from 3, but he helps a team in just about every way.
Just being able to spread the floor with a highly credible 3 is enough to get a guy on the floor, but BB will also be a good secondary ball handler, and even a primary ball handler as long as he has a decent secondary ball handler playing with him. So this guy will be stretching the floor, helping with ball handling duties, making the smart pass for the assist or hockey assist, easily posting up smaller guards inside, rebounding better than most guards, getting in passing lanes with his elite wingspan, and providing a touch of rim protection in help defense. And then there's the fact that with his elite length, Bogdan can play Small Forward as well, and arguably just as well as he can play SG as long as he isn't going against Lebron or Melo.
I'm a Celtics fan, and our starting 2 guard at the moment is Avery Bradley, who I've always been a big fan of. While Bradley is much more athletic than Bogdan, BB is far and away the more natural basketball player. Bradley can't pass to save his life, struggles handling the ball, can't finish with contact or any hint of contact, is very injury prone, and doesn't have great or even average size and strength for the position. Just simple things like passing the ball into the post, BB would be much better at. Being able to harrass ball handlers full court is a great trick, but knowing how and when and being willing to make the simple post entry pass is just as neat a trick, and making the good pass that sets up the easy assist is even better. Bogdanovic is great at the hockey assist.
And while BB isn't a great athlete, he's pretty fast up and down the court, has solid agility for his size, and posted a 36" max vert in 2010.
Bigger guys with solid pg skills are generally underrated. One reason they are so valuable is the fact that you can pair them with shooting guards in point guard sized bodies, like Avery Bradley. Guys like Bradley get overlooked in the draft so you can pick them up cheap, and even pull them out of the DLeague sometimes.
Nick Johnson is a rock solid player who won PAC 10 POY over Kyle Anderson and Aaron Gordon, and he has a 45+" vert on top of his great D, strength, and solid scoring. But because he's not a true PG with PG height, he's going to drop to the 2nd round.
Then because Bogdan has the versatility to play SF, you can situationally play him there alongside two cheap combo guards, and Bogdan is quick enough to create drive and dish opportunities regularly from SF.
It's actually pretty hard to find many examples of guys with Bogdan's full set of tools. Stauskas comes close but doesn't have BB's length. Klay Thompson comes very close but doesn't have Bogdan's passing ability.
Anywho, I wouldn't get hung up on Bogdan's lack of a flashy penetration game. Penetrating PGs and combo guards are a dime a dozen, and BB can play alongside all of them.
I didn't realize all these guys are still playing. I thought the season was over after Saric won that championship a couple weeks ago. Here is a came from a few days ago between Bogdanovic and Nikola Jokic again. Bogdanovic scores like 9 points in the first 5 minutes, i'm still watching it. Jokic comes off the bench to score 10 and 8 rebounds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_0JByg8O2s But on May 10, Jokic got the start and went 7-8 from the field for 15 points. Here are his game logs for this season: http://basketball.realgm.com/player/Nikola-Jokic/GameLogs/49571
All these guys have seen their stock skyrocket in the last year. Nurkic, Bogdanovic, and Jokic especially. Jokic just signed a 3 year deal with Denver after a huge season in Europe, and Bogdan is such a big star that there's no way he's coming over until he can sign a big contract in a year or two.