European Prospects

News about Young European Basketball Prospects

Adin Vrabac growing into a new role in Trier

December 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

It was a quite surprising move when it has been announced that one of the best prospects from Bosnia would move to Germany. In fact, the 1994 born Adin Vrabac decided to leave OKK Spars to play for TBB Trier last summer and signed a four years contract with the German Bundesliga team. Let’s see how the U20 European Championship winner of Division B managed his first months in Germany.

After playing for OKK Spars in the highest Bosnian League and his debut with the Senior National Team of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the 2m01 tall multi-use forward came to the oldest city in Germany to join a program that has made a name for itself over the last years with the development of young players. Several prospects have played multiple minutes under head coach Henrik Rödl and moved on for higher level and more lucrative contracts after their years in Trier. Players that can be named here are Maik Zirbes, Philipp Zwiener or Andy Seifferth but also non-Germans like Nate Linehart who is currently with Maccabi Tel Aviv. As the German market has dramatically changed over the last years, it is more and more difficult for smaller clubs like Trier to sign local top-level prospects as these players are now recruited by the big-budget clubs at a younger age already. Therefore, the club decided to invest in two young players coming from the Balkan region: Marko Lukovic from Serbia and Adin Vrabac from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Vrabac has been hyped quite early and became a regular member of the OKK Spars lineup during the 2013-2014 season where he averaged 10.7ppg, 3.7rpg and 2.6apg. This helped him to get an invitation to the Adidas Eurocamp as he also put his name on the Early Entry list for the NBA Draft before withdrawing a few days after the camp. Together with the neo-Nugget Jusuf Nurkic, Vrabac won the Gold Medal at the U20 European Championship of Divison B in Sarajevo finishing the tournament with 11.9ppg (59.6% FG – 20.0% 3FGs), 4.0rpg and 3,6apg showing his potential as versatile swingman.

After a difficult start into the season in a new environment, Vrabac has now become a key player for the Trier team as he is a regular member of the starting five and even a vocal leader on the court. He struggled to find his role early on and the adaptation to a new city and new country was probably not that easy. In between, the team of coach Rödl has found its rhythm and should be able to avoid relegation. They came up with a highlight when beating the current German Champion FC Bayern Munich before a full house a few weeks ago where Vrabac had his importance especially on the defensive end.

Over the last weeks, Vrabac’ role has increased and he averaged nearly 25 minutes per game. He is used in multiple roles by the coaching staff, spearheading for example their very specific 3-2 zone where his length and speed are a big problem for some opponents that are not used to play against such a tall player at the top of the zone. Here is where Vrabac gets a nice amount of steals that he either transforms himself or uses his good passing instincts to find a team mate. Vrabac also brings the ball up out of defensive rebounding situations where his ball handling gives him the possibility to push the ball full court even when being pressured by the defense. He finds the open three-point shooter in these situations but he can also go the whole way and finish at the rim.

Often used as back-up solution for the Point Guard position, Vrabac does a bit of everything for Trier on the offensive end. Mostly, he likes to attack the basket, especially when he can use his stronger left hand. He has a couple of good fakes to beat his defender and he can go for the tough euro-step or direction change moves when driving. However, he struggles at moments to finish in the paint against the often very athletic or physical opponents in the German league. Vrabac has some jump but he still lacks the body strength and stability to remain balanced when drawing contact in the air. The fact that he has a clear preference to finish with his left hand does not improve this as he has to come up with some acrobatic moves in order to get the right angles which puts him out of balance occasionally. He can though finish the tough one off the glass but he often needs to go for more difficult options because of his lack of physical strength. This is underlined by his shot chart as he finishes at about 53% at the rim despite the above mentioned problems. Once he becomes stronger, Vrabac should be able to become a close to 60% finisher at the rim.

His overall speed is good but it is not good enough to blow by elite defenders. He therefore uses his ball handling technique and overall good fundamentals to create the necessary space. The Bosnian knows how to use in-and-out moves to get open and has a couple of hesitations moves as well. The spin-move is also part of his arsenal but he tries to finish it on the left hand even if he turns over his right shoulder to the baseline. It is not that he avoids the right hand at all cost but you can clearly recognize that he feels more secure when using his stronger hand even close to the basket. This is a part of his game where Vrabac needs to work on in order to finish more effectively in the paint as this is one of his main strengths.

From outside, Vrabac does not have a really reliable three-point shot. The problem is that he often tries tough shots like step-backs instead of the normal catch-and-shoot situations. His overall mechanics look good but there are some flaws in his shot as he has even some problems to be a good free-throw shooter. He scored a really bad 24/52 free-throws during the recent U20 European Championship and is currently at 13/28 with TBB Trier, both being below 50% which is not enough for a ball-handling player who gets fouled quite a lot. Vrabac is not present as a mid-range player as you can see in the below featured shot location chart. He knows about his problems with the shot as he takes 72.2% of all his shots inside the paint. This is an extraordinary high number for a player that mainly plays on the outside positions. The colors of the shot location chart underline this as blue means clearly more shots that the average of all players while grey is clearly below average.

A part that makes Vrabac anyhow a special prospect is his ability to create opportunities for his team mates. His basketball understanding is quite good for such a young player even if there remains some upside. The 2m01 tall forward recognizes defensive mismatches and adjusts his game accordingly. He can beat the taller defender on the dribble and pass the ball immediately to the open big guy on help rotations. When he is defended by a smaller player, he brings him to the low post and tries to get the score by using his size. Once again though, he needs to work on a jump hook using both hands as this will make him a lot more effective in those mismatch situations. The 1994 born can also improve his decision making as he forces the game a bit too much occasionally and does not recognize when there are good passes possible to some better positioned players instead of forcing the tough individual play.

Adin Vrabac has certainly made the right step by moving abroad and being challenged on a higher level day-in-day-out. The choice of the German Bundesliga was probably a good one as he faces above average athletic players that will help him to develop his game in order to become more versatile. The NBA looks a bit out of reach at the moment because of the previously mentioned issues but it will be interesting to see at what level Vrabac will play at the end of this season. He is growing mentally into his new role, being present in team huddles by motivating his team mates and giving indications what to do next. The Bosnian has a four-years contract in Trier so there is enough time left for development. If that works out well, Trier might get a nice “thank you” if Vrabac will be bought out of his contract before those four years as he can develop into a player that draws interest from higher level clubs in a year or two.

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