International Profile Part 1: Nikola Jovic
Positionless basketball wins again. Coming out of the 2022 NBA Draft class, there are numerous big men with guard-like skills but in a larger body. The versatility they portray allows them to be dangerous on the floor in numerous ways. There is a 6’10 prospect from Serbia that the basketball world should keep their eyes on. Nikola Jovic continues to put the FIBA league on notice with his amazing skill set.
People can say that the game is transitioning to foreign players taking over the NBA. When you look at how Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic have taken over the NBA, it’s a great representation of how players develop in their home countries. Serbia has always shown to be very fundamental and teach their prospects the basics of the game of basketball. Once they gain professional experience at a young age, transitioning to the United States is not a big issue. This past season for Jovic in the ABA proved that his value will only continue to increase as the year’s pass.
Who is Jovic?
Jovic is a very skilled, mechanical wing that can produce in a multitude of ways. The 6’10 prospect is great on the attack and loves to absorb contact around the rim for easy opportunities. His ability to transition into a playmaker is also a big attribute in his game. Oftentimes, he can run the floor on the fastbreak and find open teammates during the opportunity. Being an unselfish star benefits Jovic due to the attention he receives from the opposing team’s defenses. As he draws double teams, his awareness allows him to remain a threat in the game.
ABA Season Stats/Performances
In his first season in the ABA, Jovic dominated the league, averaging 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. During the FIBA World Cup for the U19, he averaged 18 points along with 8.3 rebounds. It is for a fact that he is a walking triple-double every time he steps out onto the floor. In just a short amount of time, Jovic was able to lead the way for the Mega Basket by winning their second championship in team history. When placed in pressure situations, Jovic shows that he can lead a team early and produce at a very high level.
The player comparison that has surrounded Jovic is an NBA star with a similar name, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. While the two do not have similarities to their game, they are both fundamentally sound and understand how to impact the game in various ways. Jokic is coming off of an MVP caliber season for the Nuggets with a near triple-double average. Even coming into the NBA there was high optimism on what Jokic could potentially become. In his first season professionally, Jovic continues to gain momentum as an elite threat on the floor. Slowly but surely, he is gaining the respect of his peers around him.
Areas To Improve
While Jovic continued to be seen as a generational talent, the area in his game where he should improve upon is scoring from the perimeter. While he shows the mechanics and shot form to be a decent shooter, Jovic is rather inconsistent from behind the arc. As the NBA has transitioned into more of a spacing league, it is required that all positions should be able to score from the perimeter. If Jovic can become an elite threat from the outside, it will take his game to another level.
Another area of improvement can be defense, particularly on ball defense. Jovic shows the ability to have great lateral movement but his frame could be the issue to his poor effort on defense. During the FIBA U19 tournament, Jovic had plenty of defensive breakdowns that allowed his opponents to find a rhythm offensively. Jovic doesn’t have to become a lockdown defender. But making things difficult for his opponent on defense could help build more momentum for this team.
According to NBADraft.Net, Jovic is projected to become the 17th pick in the NBA Draft. Due to the generational talent that he is, could he potentially elevate his draft stock to a lottery pick? The 2022 draft class is very top-heavy with a lot of talented prospects. Jovic will need to have another spectacular season in the ABA to gain more respect from NBA front offices.
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