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Prospect update: Nikola Pekovic

December 26th, 2007 · No Comments

Maybe the biggest progression this season comes from Serbia. I talk about Nikola Pekovic, the Center from Partizan Belgrade.

20.0ppg and 7.9rpg make him one of the top contributors in those two categories in the whole Euroleague. And this by being only born in 1986. After being blocked by Kosta Perovic and Predrag Drobnjak last season, Pekovic has really emerged as the uncontested starter and go to guy of the team from Belgrade.

What makes him so dominant in the paint is first of all an fantastic positioning game. He uses the space that the defense gives him at best. Additionally, he has a well developed body which makes him a major physical presence in the paint. Athletically, he is not the best guy around, however, he can run the floor well, especially in trailer situation on the fast break. He is also not afraid to go up for some powerful dunks.

Pekovic is struggling a bit against more athletic Centers like he did in the beginning of his matchup with Pape Badiane from Roanne. However, he adapted very quickly to muscle down low for positioning and when he gets the ball close to the paint, he is making his shots with very high percentages. He particularly excels on jump hooks with the back board.

What is also very important is that Pekovic is a very good free-throw shooter with nearly 80% from the Charity line. So fouling him is not an option to stop him and it is a great asset in close games when the team wants to go for easy baskets inside.

His lack of athleticism brings with that Pekovic is only an average shot blocker. This also is one of the main points regarding Pekovic as a possible NBA player. Most Mock drafts see him actually somewhere around the end of the first round or at the beginning of the second round. Personally, I don’t like comparisons, but I just watch a recent NCAA game between North Carolina and Old Dominion. I guess, there is no real Center prospect on both teams but when I see this game action, I can easily imagine Pekovic making enormous damage there. He can be a steal if he gets drafted around the predicted places at the moment but it is still a long way to go to the NBA Draft 2008.

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