It has been too long since Croatians could be excited about NBA basketball. It was only a few years ago that Australian-born Croatian Andrew Bogut was the only player in the NBA with Croatian blood.
Today, six players grace the NBA with their talent: Dario Šarić (76ers), Bojan Bogdanović (Pacers), Ante Žižić (Cavs), Mario Hezonja (Magic), Dragan Bender (Suns) and Ivica Zubac (Lakers). With the exception of Bogdanović at 28 years old, the rest of the list comes in at 24 years or younger. The future is promising if all remain in the NBA with ample minutes.
Šarić, Bogdanović and Žižić will all be in action this weekend when the NBA playoffs begin. In the biggest surprise of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers finished third in the East with an astounding 52-30 record. The Sixers will face the Miami Heat in the first round. In his second year in the league, Šarić averaged 15 points and seven rebounds; shooting 45% from the field on a team full of rising talent. The Sixers will be favorites to move on.
In another Eastern Conference battle, Bojan Bogdanović and the Pacers (5 seed) will take on Lebron James, Ante Žižić and the Cavaliers (4 seed). Bogdanović had a a mediocre season in Indiana after signing a 2-year, $21 million deal in the summer. Babo averaged 14 points and three rebounds but shot 47% from the field. Alongside Victor Oladipo, the Pacers will need to be at 100% if they wish to take down Lebron in the first round. 21 year-old 6’11” Split native Ante Žižić will come off the bench for the Cavs in situational rolls. He only averaged seven minutes per game for the Cavs this season. Cleveland will be favorites to move past the Pacers and play #1 Toronto in the next round.
That team you presented i would place in tier 2. Are you saying you want Yugoslavia back together though?
Canada is obvious tier 2. Too much talent now and coming down the pipeline
What does Serbia have to be tier 2?!. Oh i don’t know…. Maybe just one of the 15 best players in the world?
Not to mention a consistent pipeline and a seemingly great basketball program as they have consistently performed at major tournaments. So I’m pretty sure they deserve the benefit of the doubt
As for France, they have gobert. And they will likely simply stumble into several additional nba players
THE HOMIE !! Saric
Hezonja has the athleticism & talent to become 1 of the greatest imports , he has improved but he needs to keep playing each game like it’s his last, he’s a little bit inconsistent which is his main problem, he should have confidence, it’s obvious the kid is very talented
serbia made the olypmic and euro finals
But just imagine what a current yugo team would look like. Would be right under the US
Jokic – Nurkic – Vucevic
Saric – Bjelica
Bogdanovic – Herzonja
Doncic – Bogdanovic
idk about Serbia or France, but I would definitely put Canada over Croatia rn. Even without Wiggins they still have high potential young stars like RJ Barrett and Jamal Murray, and solid roles players like Kelly Olynyk, Corey Joesph, and Trey Lyles
LOL, what makes Serbia, France and Canada Tier 2?
Jokić is good, but he’s all they have. Teodosić is older and Bogdanović has about as much potential as our Bogdanović.
Canada has talent, but they don’t care to play for the National Team. Canadians aren’t patriotic, and it shows based on the fact that Wiggins doesn’t want to play for Canada (for fear of injury) and Tristan would rather get fat chicks pregnant.
France has Gobert, and a lot of unknowns.
All three of these teams are in the same big pool as Croatia, Latvia and Greece. Slovenia might be higher since Dončić may be a white guard version of Simmons.
Niko Kovac big time opportunity!
No telling what to make of bender. He’s improved to nearly 40 percent from 3 which is huge and keep him intriguing in the nba. Over estimated defensive potential. And way too timid. The suns have been playing a d league team for months and he barely shoots
Plus 5 year country power rankings
Bogdanovic is not a rebounder nor distributor. He has his role as a secondary scorer with very high shooting numbers across the board. He will never be an All-Star but he plays his role well.
Dario Saric, however, will be a borderline All-Star. He may end up just accepting the Toni Kukoc role on this soon-to-be-champions 76er team.
He is an amazing shooter, passer, and rebounder with plenty of other intangibles. He’s a stretch-4 and playmaking-4 tied into one (which is critical in today’s NBA). Defense is his only weakness, but it’s passable and he’s a hard worker (so it will improve). He will probably have a much better NBA career than Kukoc. Sixers will trade away Covington to free up some cash once it’s time to pay Saric.
Hezonja has had an awesome second half to the season and will be the best bargain signing for any team in the offseason (since the Magic cannot re-sign him to anything more than $5M on a one-year deal, due to their stupidity in terminating his rookie scale contract). They already admitted to their mistake and they are making promises to him for playing time and role, in order for him to accept the smaller figure and stay. I expect Vlade Divac to try and sign him to the Kings, and pretty much any team with the MLE (8.5M) can sign him to a multi-year deal.
He is fast and athletic, and already a good shooter and passer. He can’t take anyone off the dribble, but moves well without the ball (good for a team with ball dominant players). If the Lakers weren’t dumb, they would sign him, so he can run with Lonzo..but they’re dumb so they will probably go all in for Paul George and some other random veteran.
Speaking of Lakers, Ivica Zubac is wasting his time there. He is a highly skilled bigman, who can rebound and score very well…but he’s not a modern NBA center who can run the floor on an uptempo Lonzo Ball run team. He can block shots, but needs to continue to work on his defence. I doubt the Lakers will develop him well though. He’s looked very good in limited minutes, but that team is not interested in developing youth. He needs to bail the first chance he can get.
Ante Zizic is the opposite of Zubac in that he has a very raw, garbage man offensive game where he just scores easy buckets (his fg% is a ridiculous 75% or something, I think he leads the entire NBA, lol)…but he’s much more athletic and can run the floor (like a modern NBA center). He could actually become a very good role playing center, but it all depends on where he ends up and how serious that team is in developing him.
Dragan Bender is the most intriguing prospect because he has ‘unicorn’ potential.
He actually defends extremely well, and is a league leader in shots challenged. However, his conditioning and strength are poor (due to his young slender frame, which should get better with age). He uses up a lot of energy on the defensive end too (which the fans love) but then it leads to him just parking himself on the 3-pt line on offense (where most of his shots come from).
He may have a Beta personality, in that he won’t demand the ball on offense and take charge, but it could also be that he’s just exhausted on defense (from taking on guys 40 lbs heavier than him). Most guys his age don’t even try to defend, and just try to score (as it leads to a much larger contract come free agency). Bender has “modern NBA center” written all over him. His development will make or break Croatia ever becoming a medalist again.
Bogdanovic has long been more an empty stat line guy except for points. Some call him a new drazen as a result
This season was fine for him. What we can expect. Good scorer but streaky. Not much of a creator, rebounder or distributor
Correction:. Zizic will not be playing this post season.
Although he actually was pretty good when he played this year
I also actually think zubac is pretty good with a lot of potential. Tough to tell if he’ll ever really find his place in this center-phobic league but the talent is there
You played 31 minutes per game with those stats and only averaged 1.5 assists on top of it.
Last year, coming off the bench for the Nets/Wizards, you put up the same stats playing 5-8 mins less per game. Your efficiency did not climb this season with the Pacers.
And for those reasons, I call this season “mediocre”.
14 pts/game, 47% shooting, “mediocre”? I would not agree with you…