As the Euroleague goes into its second phase with only the 16 best teams left, it is about time to check who were the prospects that rocked during the regular season. Next to the Partizan youth squad, Klemen Prepelic was one of the positive surprises of the season. Let’s see what makes the Slovenian guard so special.
After having played lots of minutes with Helios Domzale in both the Slovenian and the Adriatic League over the last two seasons, the 1992 born player had a big European Championship 2012 in the under 20 category where he was selected to the All-Tournament Team. He moved then to Union Olimpija Ljubljana to get his first minutes in the Euroleague with the very young squad from the Slovenian capital. Right from the start, he clinched serious minutes against the best teams in Europe and was mainly used as a scoring threat from behind the arc. So far, he takes about 1/3 of all the three-pointers of his team despite not scoring them with a great percentage. In fact, he is at 19/57 from behind the arc in the Euroleague while in the Adriatic League, he scores 32.6% as well. What is more intriguing is that he takes approximately 3 times more three-point shots than two point shots which certainly makes him one of the most pure gunners from behind the arc in the Euroleague.
His jump shot is looking good, even if he could work on having a higher release point. His elbow is not very high, only at the height of his chin, when taking his shot so that it looks a bit like those typical chest shots that young kids normally take. This is not the case for Prepelic though but this is a problem when he is guarded by taller defenders as he will struggle to take the shot on the man. His overall mechanics and release though are very quick and he does not need to bring the ball down to take the shot which is necessary with his shooting form. His feet are well above ground when taking the jump shot and his body is well balanced.
Prepelic likes of course the jump shots on kick-out situations. He is netting those with good percentages from up to 2 meters behind the three-point line. He can also create jump shot opportunities out of the dribble. He is not a primary ball handler for Olimpija Ljubljana but he can put the ball on the floor and play the Pick and Roll situations. He has a preference for going up to the jump shot out of these situations with Ljubljana right now as his role looks to be a scoring threat. During the U20 European Championship, he showed that he can be a creator as well but he is not used that much in this role at the moment. He finds the pass on the occasional Pick and Roll situation but he looks more for the scoring. Driving hard to the basket is not much of an option right now, Prepelic prefers to stop in the mid-range area for the short jump shot. He does not have a preference for any hand and can execute the quick drives going left or right.
While Prepelic is already a good force on offense on the Euroleague level, he has a lot of problems on the defensive end. Generally running behind his defender and not always in the right stance, the 1m91 tall guard is often a bit late and naïve on defensive rotations or in the one-on-one situations. Dominated physically and size-wise, he is a target for opposing guards posting him up in the low block. He has no real defensive presence in order to avoid these situations or being capable of stopping stronger guards when they play him with their back to the basket. He needs to work not only on his lateral speed but also become physically stronger in order to be able to defend in the low post. This is though a situation that comes because Prepelic mainly plays on the SG position where he is a bit short with his 1m91.
His future will probably be on the PG position as he showed with the different youth national teams that he can lead his team. His creativity is not in doubt even if he is mainly a pure dish and kick out PG when attacking the basket. With his growing experience, Prepelic should be able to take over the PG spot for Union Olimpija next season. The NBA seems out of reach for him as he lacks the athletic and physical dimension for playing in the United States. However, he should be able to be a Euroleague option for a long-time in a similar register than his countryman Jaka Lakovic. At least, he has the potential to decide games with jump shots, as he showed in his last Euroleague home game against Khimki Moscow.