European Prospects

News about Young European Basketball Prospects

Nikola Jokic leads the Mega Vizura talent squad

November 20th, 2014 · No Comments

Mega Vizura is more than ever the place to watch some of the most promising players in Europe. The club is originally based in Zemun but is playing now in Sremska Mitrovica because of ABA regulations. After Vasilije Micic and Nemanja Dangubic have been drafted last summer and left the club, it is about time to check the progress made by their third draftee from 2014, big guy Nikola Jokic. Additionally, we took a look at some of their other prospects.

Nikola Jokic – 2m09 – C – 1995

The Serbian Center has made a huge step forward this summer and is the uncontested leader of the Mega Vizura team. The agile big guy is doing a bit of everything for the his team. This starts in the defensive rebound from where he leads the transition as the main ball handler and passer in the fast break. You can see him regularly bringing up the ball, even against the press and distributing nice passes to his team mates on the wing. His ball handling allows him to do this even if he has not the speed of a guard of course. In one particularly impressive play, Jokic grabbed the defensive rebound, started the transition with the dribble, went for a spin move to avoid the defender and made a full-court pass out of the spin.

But Jokic is not only doing a good job running the transition, he is really a second playmaker in the set offense too. Not only that he sees the cutters well from the high post, Jokic is great in going for the pass out of the Pick and Roll when he is the roller. He can either find the immediate kick out pass or even reach his second inside guy with the nice touch pass. His court-vision is amazing and the understanding of angles and spacing is top notch for such a young big man. You could also see him for example “refusing” to give the ball to his PG in a situation at the three-point line when the guard came for the ball just to see Jokic finding a team mate in a perfect position in the paint. He is currently averaging about 5 assists per game but he finds so many good opportunities for his team mates that he could turn at a higher assist rate if the members of his team would make the open looks he creates.

Next to his passing skills, Jokic is of course also an interesting scorer. He has great shooting touch that allows him to knock down shots from the perimeter easily. Out of the low post, he can either work with his back to the basket and finish on the jump hook or an growing set of moves, or face up and score on the fluid mid-range jump shot around the key. Additionally, he can put the ball on the floor but his limited speed does not give him the possibility to attack the basket effectively at the moment. His overall lack of explosiveness is a weakness that does not hinder him that much in the European game but could become a problem in the NBA.

On the defensive end, this lack of speed is another factor as Jokic is not really a vertical presence as shot blocker or above the rim player. Still, with his good positioning, he grabs a great amount of defensive rebounds and his capacity to go for a quick second jump with good reaction times is interesting on the offensive glass. Still only 19 at the moment, Jokic has not yet the full package of experience so that older centers can beat him by making him leave his comfort zone. The 2m09 tall Jokic falls a bit too often on fakes but recovers in general rapidly to correct his small mistakes. This season at Mega Vizura will in any case be a huge development boost for him and will allow him to move to a bigger team next summer. I expect him to become a serious NBA rotation player in 2-3 years when he has earned more experience and has played 1-2 seasons more on the highest European level. The Denver Nuggets can be happy to have drafted one of the most promising big guys in Europe.

Ognjen Jaramaz – 1m91 – PG – 1995

We spoke about the Serbian guard already in the beginning of the year and he has made the step to Mega Vizura in April to play on a higher level. However, Jaramaz remains a bit the unknown among the Serbian prospects but I think he is deserving more interest. So far, Jaramaz has not yet found his regularity on offense with the new situation and the higher level but his overall potential looks really interesting because of his athletic qualities and defensive presence. On the offensive end, Jaramaz is more a scorer than a creator as he likes to have the ball in his hands and create his own shots. He can attack the basket and finish against taller players with both hands. His strong body gives him the possibility to finish even with the foul despite a ball handling that could be a bit better. Jaramaz has also the range to score from outside. He can make the three-point shot out of the Pick and Roll or finish on the catch and shoot situation in transition.

He has a nicely high release point on his jump shot which remains stable even when going for the step back jumper from mid-range. The Serbian guard is not afraid to take important shots in decisive moments too which gives an indication on his confidence level. On the other hand, he should become more concentrated on his passing which is sometimes a bit too sloppy or not strong enough to find his team mate. On the defensive end, Jaramaz has the potential to become a high level stopper as he has great lateral speed, long arms and he can recover after being beat on the first step because of his great vertical presence. Jaramaz has certainly the potential to develop into a Euroleague player over the next years. He will get a lot of experience playing major minutes in the ABA League this season and it will be interesting to see what the next step is for him.

Nenad Miljenovic – 1m94 – PG – 1993

After a period of draught, Miljenovic is currently playing superbly nearly averaging a double-double in points and assists in the ABA League. With his yo-yo like ball handling, Miljenovic can create space at will for himself but also beat his man in 1-1 situations. He finds his team mates perfectly, especially in Pick and Roll situations where he has the great feel for the angles and cuts. He is not afraid to add the little fanciness but misdirecting the defense with looking in the opposite direction of his intended pass. With his drives to the basket, he generates a lot of help situations and he knows were to go for the pass to find the open player on every situation.

Miljenovic does not lack confidence either as he likes to take the jump shot early in the offense. He is quite effective from mid-range but lacks the depth on his shooting to be a factor from behind the arc at the moment. He remains still quite frail physically and this does not look like it is going to change dramatically over the next years. This might be his main weakness to become a factor on the highest level as it prevents him from attacking the rim really hard and it even seems to bother him in his long range shooting. Several years ago, Miljenovic was considered a big time prospect, even for the NBA. Right now, he has clearly rejuvenated his career in the season of the automatically eligibility for the NBA Draft. However, his future looks to be more in Europe as he could not yet develop his body enough for moving to the United States.

Rade Zagorac – 2m01 – SG/SF – 1995

Another interesting player on the Mega Vizura roster is the 19 year old swingman Rade Zagorac. The long and wiry prospect is around for several years already and has developed into a steady contributor for the ABA Liga team after having played with Jaramaz in Smederevo last season. Really effective from behind the arc, Zagorac can also attack the basket with his long steps and likes to finish at the rim. He executes eurostep finishes nicely in order to avoid the big guys as he is not really athletic to play up in the air. But with his good handles, he can create the space as the defense needs to close out hard on him because of his good three-point shot in catch and shoot situations. Not really a shot creator out of the dribble, Zagorac can however find his team mates in kick out situations but he remains a scorer first. He likes to handle the ball in transition and go all the way to finish with his typical long steps at the basket.

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