In the third and last part of our Nike International Junior Tournament review, we will take a look at the big guys today. So check out who are the players to follow in the next years to play in the paint.
Nemanja Bezbradica – 2m05 – PF/C – 1993 – FMP Belgrade
The Serbian PF/C showed us again his well know forces and weaknesses. While he is still a physically and athletically very strong inside player with a massive build for a player of his age, Bezbradica did not show much of a progress when it comes to his outside shot or his shot selection overall. But next to that, he displayed some progress in his ball handling skills but also his overall athletic abilities. Several times, the FMP player stepped out to the three-point line in order to attack the basket on the dribble where he even came up with the occasional cross-over dribble to eliminate his defender.
However, when he is stepping out, he is insisting on taking the three-point shot when being let open instead of sharing the ball. These long-distance attempts ended up really bad with bricks hitting the back board or the airball. His good free-throw percentages (76.1%) suggest a good shooting touch though so there might be some correct three-point shot coming down the road but overall it looked terrible in Belgrade. As said before, Bezbradica improved in attacking the basket when putting the ball on the floor and overall he looked faster and more explosive than we remembered him. With the emergence of Popovski as strong rebounder, Bezbradica’s own numbers went down in this part of the game which is however not really to worry about.
My overall feeling on him remains mixed. Bezbradica is showing on the one hand some progress in certain parts of the game like the back-to-the-basket game or the speed but his decision-making remains a bit hazardous. We will see how he translates his game to the Senior level in the future and his first performances playing against professional players might give us a better indication in which direction he might go in the next years.
Stats: 14.0ppg (55.1% 2FGs – 76.1% FTs), 4.0rpg, 0.8bpg, 13.0rkgpg
Dusan Ristic – 2m10 – C – 1995 – FMP Belgrade
One of the youngest players in the tournament, Dusan Ristic is however a guy to follow in the next years. Ristic has great size, long arms and moves very well, that’s already a great start. Additionally, he seems to be very competitive and not afraid to play hard. That’s a plus. Additionally, he can finish close to the basket with either hand and is doing a good job on Pick and Roll situations. He has good positioning and takes already some quite interesting decisions on the offensive end. All this combines for a high-level prospect that remains though very raw when it comes to a technically developed back-to-the-basket game. But Ristic will certainly improve this over the next years and he is sure lock when it comes to the next NIJT events as one of the main targets to follow.
Stats: 4.0ppg (71.4% 2FGs), 3.2rpg, 4.8rkgpg
Dusan Bogdanovic – 2m10 – C – 1993 – Partizan Belgrade
Dusan Bogdanovic was one of the Partizan players that played a rather interesting tournament and he finished it with his best performance against the athletic INSEP team. The Serbian Center has an interesting arsenal of offensive moves out of the low post where he can use different fakes in order to create a scoring option for himself. He showed good footwork and several ways to score the basketball like the jump hook, the turn around jump shot or the extra-step move to avoid the shot blocker. Bogdanovic is really long and moves nicely and is doing a good job as screener in the Pick and Roll situations. He can finish after taking two long steps to come as close as possible to the basket without losing his balance and can use either hand for the score in the paint.
Stats: 10.0ppg (73.0% 2FGs – 85.7% FTs), 3.8rpg, 1.4apg, 13.0rkgpg
Ivan Marinkovic – 2m07 – PF/C – 1993 – Crvena Zvezda
The Serbian PF played an excellent tournament in Belgrade and was the other key of the Crvena Zvezda’s game next to Cvetkovic. Marinkovic has not really a build of a Center player, he physically looks more like a wing. But he had to play full-time on the C position because of the lack of size of his team mates. Marinkovic runs the court like a forward and has also interesting athletic and leaping ability that allow him to finish often with the dunk, even in traffic. He moves very well without the ball and recognizes where to position himself in order to be effective. As he has not really any back-to-the-basket moves, he likes to attack facing his defender and using his speed to beat them on the dribble.
Marinkovic can put the ball on the floor and has a nice first step using either hand. He can finish with the left hand softly on the finger-roll for example but is also able to come up with the powerful dunk over two defenders. He has some range for the jump shot but it is not his main offensive option at the moment. However, this shows that his future will most likely be on the PF position in order to use his speed and shooting abilities at its best. With his excellent jump of two feet, he was a good target for his guards to pass the ball high up in the air and he finished the passes without taking the ball down and avoided the turnover effectively.
Defensively, Marinkovic uses his length to be present in shot-blocking but he could be a lot more present in defensive rebounding. While he is doing a good job on the offensive glass (3.0 per game), he is less effective on the defensive end. He needs to improve his boxing-out and rely less on his jumping abilities and more on good positioning and physical play. Another part of his game that he needs to improve is his free-throw shooting where he only netted 50% of his attempts, a problem that is also present in the Serbian Junior League where he is at 47% from the charity stripe right now.
Stats: 15.2ppg (58.9% 2FGs – 50.0% FTs), 7.4rpg, 1.2bpg, 15.2rkgpg
Yannis Morin – 2m06 – PF/C – 1993 – INSEP
The years go on and we remain a “fan” of Yannis Morin. However, one of the main points where we are still waiting for some progress does not really change. Morin has lots of ups and downs in his game and he seems to lack the necessary aggressiveness and concentration. He can come up with the enormous dunk over the whole defense and be totally absent in the next ten minutes. Morin looks like he always needs the extra push to play at 100%. He is running the floor well, has good hands close the basket, is very vertical but on the other hand remains very naïve in his decision making as he falls on the fakes in defense and remains soft when being attacked hard. But we still believe in him that he can change this attitude in the next years as he has all the physical attributes to become a very interesting player down the road. But in any way, he needs to improve his free-throw shooting which is very poor at the moment.
Stats: 8.0ppg (66.6% 2FGs – 44.4% FTs), 5.2rpg, 1.6pbg, 9.0rkgpg
Mam Jaiteh – 2m05 – PF/C – 1994 – INSEP
A player that imposed himself throughout the tournament in the French rotation was the largely built Mam Jaiteh. The 1994 born big guy features a really interesting body and also some good basketball talent to develop. Jaiteh is a bit slow in his executions but powerful and precise. He mainly scored on offensive rebounds or after dishes from his team mates but he also nailed the occasional jump shot from the top of the key or the turnaround jumper in the low post. He also had a big play that I particularly remember well when he grabbed an offensive rebound with his right hand and switched the ball to his left to finish with the foul.
More surprisingly, Jaiteh showed good passing skills from the high-post where he had the right timing to give the good assist for his fellow big guy. As he has grown a lot bigger this season, the 2m05 tall player has sometimes problems catching the quick passes of his teammates. He has good hands though but they are a bit slippery right now, something that he should be able to improve in the future. Despite his massive body, he was able to hold his opponent in front when moving laterally which is a very positive sign. It will be highly interesting to follow Jaiteh’s development in the next years as he has a lot of what scouts are looking for in terms of physical abilities and basketball skills.
Stats: 9.0ppg (53.3% 2FGs – 76.4% FTs), 5.6rpg, 1.6apg, 12.4rkgpg
Ziga Dimec – 2m10 – C – 1993 – Olimpija Ljubljana (loaned from Konjice)
Ziga Dimec played an excellent tournament for Olimpija Ljubljana and he was certainly one of the only reasons of satisfaction for the Slovenian team. Rather tall and physically strong, Dimec is not a great athlete by any means and has except his size not much to talk about from a physical point of view. However, Dimec does on the court only what he does best and nothing more. He has good positioning and his team mates found him lots of times with their passes so that he could finish from close. He is doing a good job on Pick and Roll situations without rolling very fast but effectively. Dimec can finish in these situations but also out of the low-post play with a very flat jump hook over the backboard.
Additionally, Dimec seems to understand the game very well. Not only that he knows where his own limitations are, he is doing a lot of correct decisions and does not turn the ball over very often (4 turnovers in 125 minutes). You can see him making good fakes to get open but also doing a good job in swinging the ball or passing out of the low post to the opposite side. On the defensive end, he struggles because he is very slow laterally and gets in trouble when he has to guard faster or more athletic players. He is not very explosive either and this does not help him in the defensive rebound where he might do a good job on boxing out but sometimes is too slow in reacting to go get the ball. For this level, he was a very important player but because of his above mentioned weaknesses, it is a long way to go for him to become a factor on the professional level most likely.
Stats: 13.0ppg (72.5% 2FGs – 70.0% FTs), 5.8rpg, 1.0bpg, 16.2rkgpg