Now that the pingpong balls (or computer algorithm or mad scheme cooked up by David Stern, whichever you prefer) have spoken, we can truly let speculation on the 2010 NBA Draft run wild. Following up profiles on the likes of Donatas Motiejunas and Miroslav Raduljica, BallinEurope’s man in the U.K. Sam Chadwick today takes a look at versatile Serbian Nemanja Bjelica, projected by most in-the-know as a second-round pick this year.
This writeup comes courtesy of a reader’s tip: Dzoni asked us to take a look into a guy called Nemanja Bjelica of Red Star Belgrade. Well, I have looked and I like what I see.
This guy is 6’10” (2.08 meters) and the amazing thing is he plays guard, whether shooting or point. Bjelica’s height not only allows him to see over defenders and make the open pass but also to hustle inside and get the rebounds. In ranking the 1988-born generation, prospect specialist website Eurohopes has Bjelica at no. 8, behind only Danilo Gallinari, Nicolas Batum, Omri Casspi, Rodrigue Beaubois, Viktor Claver, Alexis Ajinca and Raduljica: Excepting Raduljica, all of these have been drafted and most are playing at a high level in the NBA. Anyway, onward with the profile.
Weight: 223 lbs/101 kg
Date of birth: 05/09/1988
Current Club: BC Red Star Belgrade
Strengths: For a 6’10” to play guard is awesome, requiring great ball-handling skills and court vision – think Magic Johnson. In the NBA, Bjelica will create mismatches and problems for all defenders, making a clear runner for a pick-and-roll offence. You have a player who really compares to Gallinari in regards to ball handling: Recall that Gallinari played guard in Europe as well, though in contrast Bjelica will probably continue to play this position in the NBA. Should he move to a small forward spot, he could ascend to the role of a Lebron James, who has proven that forwards can distribute the ball and make the correct decisions. Bjelica will be able to do this as well, using his height to see over defenders and to make the correct and accurate pass.
Weaknesses: Bjelica may someday be a great shooter but looking at the stats, this doesn’t show. He managed 40% FG shooting in Eurocup play and 45% in the Adriatic League play; on threes, he went for just a 24% percentage in the 2009-10 Eurocup and 29% in the Adriatic League. Bjelica shot a reasonable 80% free throw percentage in Adriatic ball. Obviously, jump shooting is an area in which he can improve. But if he can become more of a playmaking small forward, the shooting will come with time.
Mock draft forecasts: NBAdraft.net currently has Bjelica going at no. 40 overall to the Indiana Pacers, while Draft Express has him going to the Atlanta Hawks at no. 53. We feel he could work anywhere: Like I said – and I’m trying to get this into everyone’s head here – he’s a 6’10” and could play for any team at a range of about four positions. He can fill any need except maybe centre. He could play point for Indiana if they want it, or he can fill any number of roles for Atlanta in the wake of Joe Johnson’s presumed departure. No matter where Bjelica goes or for whom he plays, this kid has the talent to play any position in the NBA.
–written by Sam Chadwick
Sam Chadwick is an assistant coach for the Solent Kestrels U13 team. He also writes a basketball-centered blog called Hype.