This year’s edition of NBA Draft is scheduled for 20th June. For college players, 29th May is deadline day to pull out from the Draft and get back to their schools. For players who play in Europe, deadline is 10th June to decide if they will stay on Draft list or not.
So far, total of 8 players from Serbia have declared themselves for draft.
Take a look on their profiles and our predictions about them:
- PETRUŠEV Filip- 6’11, forward, 2000.
#1 ranked player in his generation decided to test waters after his freshman year on Gonzaga university and to declare himself for NBA Draft 2019. Filip went through a lot of things in his past going from Partizan to Baskonia, from Baskonia to Avon HS and then finally to Montverde Academy from where he committed to Gonzaga(after decomitting from Hartford). Won gold medals on U18 European championships in 2017 and 2018, when he was a member of All Tournament Team. Petrušev had better than expected season on Gonzaga, played 11.6 minutes per game and manage to put 6.5ppg and 2.7rpg. Played mostly as a back up big guy who is able to play both inside and outside. Has great size with high level mobility. Able to put the ball on the floor and drive from perimeter, but decent mid and long range jumper is what makes him good perimeter player. Can score both off the catch and bounce and shot is improving even more. Body wise had problems in past, but got stronger and tougher recently so it is getting better. Really polished post player, has nice post skillset, well coordinated with good footwork and ability to finish with either hand. Became more aggressive finisher above the rim. Has nice touch in the paint. Defense is currently his biggest weakness for NBA level. Has to be more aggressive and physical on defensive end. Bigger and stronger bigs are making him problems inside the paint. Even though he is really mobile for his size, lacks of lateral quickness so he won’t be able to switch on elite guards in the NBA.
Draft prediction: Will probably pull out and stay at Gonzaga for a year or two more. In future has potential to be first rounder
- POPOVIĆ Nikola- 6’11, center, 1997.
Team: Boston College
Popović came to Boston College three years ago after spending his senior HS year playing for Sagemont High School. Played for KK Crvena Zvezda back in Serbia and also for Serbian NT in 2014 and 2015. Has great junior season behind him, averaging 14.5 ppg and 7.2rpg as a starting center for Boston College which made him one of the most productive big guys in ACC Conference. Great sized with strong body that got better throughout years(gain 10 pounds since previous season). He was really dominant in the paint, aggressive finisher inside who goes for the dunk anytime possible. Has solid level of post skillset and ability to score with both hands. Not afraid of playing in contact. His big advantage is ability to drive from perimeter. Not a high level ball handler, but can put one or two dribbles on the floor which is more than enough for his size. Outside shot is improving, can score when stays wide open. Good PnR screener, reads situations very well. Plays with a lot of energy on both ends. Good rebounder, has great feeling for grabbing rebounds. Mobile enough for a 6’11 guy but not the most athletic big, which can be his issue for playing basketball on NBA level.
Draft predictions: Might get back to finish his senior year on Boston college, if he stays on Draft, late second rounder in the best case.
- ILIĆ Dalibor- 6’9, forward, 2000.
Team: Igokea/Mega Bemax
Athletic forward is a newcomer at Serbian team- Mega Bemax. He came on a loan from Igokea where he spend last 5 years. He was a captain of Serbian U18 NT that won gold medal in 2018 on European Championship. Had many ups and downs during this season in ABA league, ended it with 4.4ppg and 4.1rpg for 14.2 minutes on the court. Will play Serbian playoffs for Mega Bemax. Ilić’s biggest asset right now is enormous level of athleticism, wingspan and physical tools he possesses. Mobility is on more than fair level, too. Still hasn’t established himself as a big time scorer on senior level, but did it on U19 level without any troubles, ended season in U19 ABA League with 26.7ppg and 16.8rpg, along with 2.8bpg. Was dominant in the paint on both ends in each one of the games he played on this stage. Showed how aggressive player he can be above the rim thanks to his athletic abilities. Strong body helped him to maintain position and push his defenders deep inside the paint. However, needs a lot of work on fundamental things such as ball handling and passing skills if he wants to plays as a SF in future. Shot is his biggest weakness, bad shot motion, footwork and slow release lead to lack of accuracy and bad percentages. Good defensive player, has ability to guard from 1-5 even on senior level in ABA league. Provides decent level of energy on both sides of the floor. Sits on rank #6 on our 2000. ranking at the moment.
Draft predictions: Ilić will probably pull out of the draft for this year. If he improves his weaknesses and stats in nest year, has chances to be early second rounder next year.
- MIŠKOVIĆ Nikola- 6’9, forward, 1999.
Team: Mega Bemax
Another forward from Mega Bemax who declared himself for the NBA Draft. Number 1 ranked player in 1999. generation. He plays in Mega since U15 category and was projected as one of clubs biggest prospects ever since. After Bitadze left on a loan to Buducnost, Mišković used situation really well and established himself as a team leader. Ended up season with 11.6ppg and 4.1rpg. It will be interested to see him paired with Bitadze and Ilić in Serbian playoffs. Mišković’s size, length and ability to stretch the floor are his biggest strengths at the moment. Played a lot as a SF this season, used his speed advantage and really long first step to drive to the hoop when guarded by slower bigs. Can finish with both hands but usually goes right side. Good ball handler, not so flashy, but pretty sure with the ball in his hands. When guarded by smaller defenders, plays from the low post and uses his size to finish over them with fade aways or close range shots. Started shooting off the screens but it still has long way to go in order to become real threat. Still does way better job when shoots off the catch. Has nice shot motion and high release. Mobility is on good level regarding his size and fact that he had a knee injury and skipped almost whole last season because of it. Defensively, mostly uses his long arms to steal the balls and block shots. Improved defensive awareness in past season, along with weak side reaction. Doesn’t always play with highest energy level. Body is biggest issue at the moment, has thin frame and lacks of strength. Needs to upgrade it for playing on higher level.
Draft predictions: Wasn’t considered as a Draft prospect at season beginning, but after playing really well in second part of the season and improving stats became even a potential first rounder. Still, early second round looks more realistic.
- SMAILAGIĆ Alen- 6’9, forward, 2000.
Team: Santa Cruz Warriors
Youngest player ever to play for Santa Cruz Warriors in G league. Smailagić was drafted as 4th pick on last year G league draft by South Bay Lakers but has been traded to Golden State affiliate right after. Before getting to the G League, he played in Belgrade team- BEKO in both U19 league and 3rd tier of senior basketball. He was the MVP of the U19 league regular season in 2017/18. He has finished his first G league season with 9.1ppg and 4 rebs in 17.4 mins on the court. Mixture of his size and frame with above average mobility was something unique in Serbia. Beside physical tools he has unquestionable talent and ability to score in various ways. Good ball handler with really polished ball handling skills for a 6’9 forward. Can go both sides, but mostly finishes with right hand layups or two handed dunks when possible. Not afraid of finishing through contact. His mid and long range shot is really reliable weapon. Has fluid shot motion and ability to score both off the catch and bounce. Needs work on low post game if wants to play as a PF in future. Currently he is more of a SF. Defensive wise, not so quick on his feet so primarly defends guys on the post. Can switch with smaller guards but usually gets exposed easily. Thanks to long enough arms has ability to wait for them on the rim. Tough player, provides good amount of energy on the court.
Draft prediction: Biggest chances for Smailagic are to get drafted by GSW and to get sent back to G league. In the best case he can get a two way contract for first season.
- PAUNOVIĆ Zoran- 6’7, guard, 2000.
Team: KK Crvena Zvezda/KK FMP
Another 2000. born who played on 2018 EC where Serbia won gold medal. Paunović signed his first professional contract with KK Crvena Zvezda last year after winning U19 title in Serbia thanks to his buzzer beater. Had problems with foot injury in first part of the season. Played on a loan at FMP in ABA league and averaged only 3.2ppg and 1.2rpg in 9.8 minutes on the court. This was his first senior season but didn’t have big role on the court so far. Will probably have more minutes and bigger role in Serbian Playoffs. Paunović is a good sized guard with above average wingspan. Very smart player, good decision maker who has good feeling for the game. Has long and quick enough first step which he uses very well when goes for a straight line drive. Versatile PnR ball handler, can create equally well for himself and for his teammates. Good off the dribble shooter, specially from mid range. Has proper shot motion with really high release point. Not so aggressive defender, but has long arms that he uses to steal ball from ball handlers. Has thin body frame with not too much room to be filled. Proved himself as one of the best players on youth levels but still hasn’t got enough experience on senior level. Currently ranked #4 in his generation.
Draft predictions: Paunović will pull himself out from Draft lists for this year. Needs time to gain experience on senior level and improve his body as much as possible.
- SIMANIĆ Boriša- 6’10, forward, 1998.
Team: KK Crvena Zvezda
#1 ranked player from 1998. generation is considered as one of the biggest European prospects since he was 16. Decided not to go college when he had offers from some of the best schools in the NCAA and turned pro. Had few very good Euroleague and ABA League games in past seasons but this year finally showed some consistency in his game. Used situation is Crvena Zvezda’s roster very well and few injuries that occured throughout season and player respective role in ABA League winner. Averaged 7ppg and 3.6rpg in 18.8 mins on the court usually coming off the bench. Simanić is very unique player regarding his athleticism and talent he has. Very long forward who runs the extremely well for his size. Can play in and out but prefers to plays on the perimeter. Great spot up shooter, has proper mechanics, fluid shot motion and quick release. Improved his off the dribble shot, as well. Can drive both sides, oftenly finishes drives with one or two handed dunks. Good passer off the drives, too, able to kick the ball out to his teammates on the perimeter or to the post players inside. Polished on the low post, can use his size advantage mixed with nice post skillset to score off the post. Has soft touch around the rim, too. Body and his thin frame that is not really developing could be an issue for playing on top level. Even though he had pretty good season, still has to be even more constant and to exclude ups and downs from his game.
Draft predictions: If he stays on the draft list, second round seems like the most likely option for him. Still, there are bigger chances for him to stay in Europe and wait to become auto-eligible for the draft.
- MARJANOVIĆ Andrija- 6’8, wing, 1999.
Team: Mega Bemax
Marjanović is a 1999. born wing who already has international experience since he has played for youth categories of Barcelona before coming to Mega Bemax 2 years ago. He was member of Serbian NT that won U18 EC in 2017. This season was his second in ABA League and he showed some minor stats improvements. Averaged 5.5ppg with 2rpg. Had 4.8ppg and 2.4rpg in 2017/18 season. 6’8 wing has good physical tools and athleticism. He is an early bloomer who already developed his body up to the ceiling. Not so creative wing, can drive both sides, but with no more than 2,3 dribbles. Has good body control and ability to stand contact when goes to the hoop. Shot is something he should work on. Can score long range jumpers, mainly off the catch, but shot motion and release could be better. On defensive end provides solid amount of energy, can play aggressive defense on ball handlers. Active on weak side as well. For higher level, needs work on his offensive creativity and shot above other things.
Draft predictions: Most likely won’t get drafted if he stays on the draft list after deadline day.