2022 Draft Watch: First Look at Nikola Jovic

May 28th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Mega Bemax’s 6-10, 2003-born Serbian forward Nikola Jovic has been mentioned as a possible first round candidate for the 2022 draft.  He was able to put up fairly solid numbers during his brief time in the Adriatic League this past season.  I decided to watch him play in an April 11th game against FMP Beograd, with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d. 

This was an opportunity to watch him play in a full basketball game, as well as to get another look at Malcolm Cazalon.  In addition, Mega Bemax’s Karlo Matkovic and Nikola Miskovic put forth impressive performances in their loss to FMP Beograd.  Here are my thoughts on how Jovic fared, as well as how his game may currently stack up as a prospect for the NBA.

Mega Bemax’s 6-10 forward, Nikola Jovic is an offensively skilled player that could be a first round pick in the 2022 draft.
(Photo:
Mega Bemax)

Nikola Jovic is a skilled, 6-10 forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he is an unselfish player that can excel on the offensive end of the floor.  He still needs to be a more consistent outside shooter and he will need to improve his focus defensively, but his offensive skills could make him an interesting prospect to watch next season. Jovic showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  Though he’s not overwhelmingly athletic, he has a decent first step to the hoop, and he takes good angles that enable him to finish plays around the basket.  Jovic drove right off of a screen to score on a runner high off the glass.  Plus, he also drew free throws on an aggressive drive in transition, as he also drew a clear-path foul on his opponent. He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Jovic moves fairly well off the ball on offense, and he was able to run in to score on a tip-in after leaping up to grab an offensive rebound.

Also, he showed off promising shooting skills.  Jovic was able to move off the ball to score on a quick, long two-point shot from the baseline.  He also was able to make a quick, spot-up three off the catch.  On the downside, he struggled to knock down pull-up jumpers or spot-up threes consistently, and he had some trouble creating separation at times when hosting up pull-up jump shots.  It will be imperative for Jovic to be a more consistent outside shooter, and if he can consistently knock down threes, it could really elevate his game and open things up for him on offense.

Plus, Jovic displayed decent playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will look to find open shooters, and he also can throw sharp entry passes to get big men the basketball.  He can throw accurate passes off the dribble, and he is a patient player that has solid court vision.  Sometimes though, he can struggle to handle the ball when pressured, which would almost lead him to turnovers.  On one play though, he tried to get around an opponent off the ball, but he pushed him down which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover. Also, Jovic showed a willingness to crash the glass, and he was able to leap up to get his fair share of boards in this game.  He was able to leap up to get a board on each end of the floor.  He seems to be more of an area rebounder, but he was able to pull down a couple of rebounds in this game.

Defensively, he struggled in this game.  For the positives, Jovic is an active help defender that will look to make plays on the ball.  When defending in the post, he held his ground and blocked his shot to a teammate, as he showed off surprising strength for a player his size, as well as fairly solid length and timing to swat the shot.  He also was able to pounce on a loose ball that a teammate poked away to help his team get a steal.  On another play, Jovic got back on defense and forced the opposing ball handler to slow up and to pass the basketball another time.

However, he tended to get caught ball watching, as he would frequently lose focus, and lose track of his man on cuts and rolls to the rim, which would often lead them to score around the basket.  Other times, he would struggle to defend in one-on-one situations.  He got beat off the dribble when defending out on the perimeter to allow a score.  Another time, he got outmuscled when defending in the post, and he ended up committing a hand-checking foul as a result.

Overall, Nikola Jovic is an offensively skilled forward that can shoot and pass the basketball.  He can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he shows promise as a shooter in the future.  He will still need to improve his three-point shooting and defense.  He will need to make more outside shots consistently, and he will need to improve his focus on the defensive end and also show that he can guard upper-tier players on a consistent basis.  Currently, he may project to rate as a late first to a second round prospect for the 2022 draft.  If he can continue to develop and hone his game, over time he could perhaps end up being a solid role player similar to Washington Wizards’ forward, Dāvis Bertāns in the NBA.  Otherwise, if Jovic doesn’t improve and stagnates as an overall player, he could end up being a fringe rotation player similar to Minnesota Timberwolves’ forward, Jake Layman, and in that scenario, he would then likely have to scrap for minutes and playing time at that level.

Other Notes:

Mega Bemax’s 6-6 guard, Malcolm Cazalon played fairly well in his team’s loss to FMP Beograd.  He is an unselfish player that can play either backcourt position, and he was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the floor. Cazalon showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He was able to use a crafty, behind-the-back dribble move to score on a smooth, finger roll layup on a drive in transition.  He also would drive hard to the hoop to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.

He also displayed an adequate ability to knock down three-pointers in this game.  Cazalon ran the floor and was able to make an open corner three on the break.  On the downside, he struggled to make pull-up jumpers from beyond the arc.  There was also one play where he settled for a really tough deep shot, and he kicked out his legs and didn’t get enough on it, which led him to miss it a bit short.

Plus, Cazalon showcased solid playmaking skills.  He would throw crisp, accurate interior passes to find roll men on the move, and he has good court vision that allows him to seamlessly make drop-off passes to notch assists.  He generally does a good job of throwing timely passes, and he also throws solid passes off the dribble.  On the downside, he can be prone to rushing, which can lead him to be inaccurate with his passes.  On one play, he threw a weak entry pass that got intercepted once.  Another time, after using a quick behind the back dribble move on the break, he threw an inaccurate pass that skipped out of bounds. He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Cazalon would chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor, and there was one play where he pushed the ball quickly up the floor afterwards.

Also, Cazalon played adequate defense.  He rotated to poke away a mishandled ball and dove for a loose ball on the ground to get a steal due to possessing a good motor and the instincts to do so.  He also was able to contest a three and a shot in the post to force some misses.  He also managed to fight around a screen to stay with an opposing ball handler to force his man to pass the ball.  On the downside, he can sometimes struggle to stay in front of quicker ball handlers, and there were a few times where he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to allow scores.

Overall, Malcolm Cazalon had a solid showing as he played a fairly good all-around game in his team’s loss to FMP Beograd.  He showed off a solid ability to run the point, and he is a good facilitator that can score and defend when he is on the floor.  He can sometimes be prone to forcing the issue too much on offense, which can lead him to take bad shots and to commit turnovers.  Still, he is a talented, athletic guard that could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2021 draft, and he may have the skills to be an effective role player in the NBA.

Mega Bemax’s 6-9 big man, Karlo Matkovic played very well in his team’s loss to FMP Beograd.  He excelled as an interior player when he was on the court, and he managed to score 21 points, and he also collected 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in this game. Matkovic generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He would often score on rolls, tip-ins, and in transition.  He ran the floor and caught a long pass to score on a powerful dunk while getting an extra free throw afterwards.  He also managed to score on alley-oop dunk off of a roll, as well as on a tip slam off of an offensive rebound.  Sometimes though, he would not always play under control and force up rushed shots, which led to a few misses.

He also did a good job of scoring in the post.  He showed good footwork and scoring touch, as he was able to use a pump fake and dribbled left to score on a crafty, running layup.  He also showed that he can score on jump hooks as well as on a strong, up and under move.  There was one time where he missed too hard off the glass, but Matkovic generally excelled at scoring when he would get the ball on the block.

On the downside, he was a bit turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, he can pass out of the post, and he also set an on-ball screen to help get a teammate an open jump shot.  He will also generally roll hard to the rim to create scoring chances for himself and his team.  On the other hand, there was one play where he caught the ball in the post but then brought the ball down, which led him to get the ball poked away to commit a turnover.  He also was doubled and crowded in the post after grabbing an offensive rebound, and he then threw a weak, hasty pass that got intercepted another time. Also, Matkovic did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get multiple boards on both sides of the ball, and he was able to push the ball quickly up the court early in this game.

Defensively though, he struggled in this game.  For the positives, he would rotate to block shots off of drives due to possessing solid timing, motor, and instincts, and he was able to force a shot clock violation once.  Sometimes, he would rotate to contest shots in the paint, which would help him force some misses.  However, he would tend to hang back too far on drop coverages when defending screens, and he wouldn’t switch out to a three-point shooter, which would hang his teammate out to dry and lead his team to allow three-point baskets to the opposition.  Other times, he would tend to hug his man, and he wouldn’t contest shots off of drives despite being in the area.  He also would be too aggressive at times when defending his man, as he bit on a pump fake that led him to foul a cutter, and he also was called for a reach-in foul when defending in the post.

Overall, Karlo Matkovic is a skilled, mobile big man that can score and rebound in the paint, and he also showed off some shot-blocking skills.  However, he still needs to improve his team defense, and he generally would not make solid enough rotations or defend well in space in this game.  He will need to improve defensively, but he could be an interesting prospect to watch next season.

Mega Bemax’s 6-9 big man, Nikola Miskovic also had a solid showing in his team’s loss to FMP Beograd.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he was able to make some solid plays to help his team on both ends of the court. Miskovic showed a satisfactory ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He showed a knack for making spot-up threes, and he was able to make one off of a pick and pop play early on.  On the downside, he did have a couple of bad misses, as he missed on a contested step-back three, and he also air-balled a wide open corner three another time.

He also did a decent job of scoring off the dribble and in the post.  Miskovic has a fairly solid first step, and he can take slower footed big men off the dribble to draw fouls upon them in order to get to the free throw line.  He also used a Euro-step move to get to the foul line on a drive in transition once.  He did miss another time on a baseline drive though, and he can be prone to rushing, which can lead him to miss shots on occasion.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Miskovic is a fairly athletic big man that can handle the basketball, and he showed that he can make drive and kick passes to find open shooters on offense.  Also, he did not turn the ball over once on offense. Plus, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to leap up to get plenty of defensive boards, and Miskovic would tend to push the ball quickly up the floor after getting defensive rebounds for his team.

Also, Miskovic played solid defense in this game.  He would leap up to catch dropped passes to get steals.  He also managed to block a shot when defending in the post due to possessing decent length and timing.  He also was able to contest a shot in the post, and he also would actively close out on three-point shooters to force plenty of misses.  On the downside, sometimes he can get beat off the dribble by quicker opponents, and it led him to allow a score to an opponent later on in this match.

Overall, Nikola Miskovic played fairly well in his team’s loss to FMP Beograd.  He is a mobile, skilled stretch big that can score in a variety of ways, and he also showed that he can do a little bit of everything on the court.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter in games and also show that he can guard upper-echelon opponents on a consistent basis.  He is a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft.  Miskovic may be a similar player to Cleveland Cavaliers’ big man Dean Wade, and in a favorable scenario, Miskovic could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

FMP Beograd’s Marko Pecarski had a decent showing in his team’s win over Mega Bemax.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also was fairly active on the glass.  On the other hand, he tended to commit loose ball fouls, and he struggled with his on-ball defense in this game. Pecarski showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble and in the post.  He used a pump fake and a hesitation move to score on a quick drive to the hoop while getting an extra free throw.  He also was able to score over a smaller defender when posting up.  He also would draw fouls upon his defenders when trying to post up.  He did miss on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper, but he generally did a good job of scoring when he would look to score around the basket.

He also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Pecarski ran in to score on a tip-in after grabbing an offensive rebound.  He also was able to get the ball off of a curl cut to score on a fadeaway bank jumper.  Another time, he made a quick cut to the hoop, but he ended up missing the shot in traffic. He also did an adequate job of knocking down threes to provide some floor spacing for his team on offense.  Pecarski moved off the ball to get it, and he was able to make a quick, open spot-up three off the catch.  On the other hand, he also missed on two other occasions from beyond the arc, as he can be a bit streaky with his outside shot.

He also exhibited fairly average playmaking skills.  Pecarski can pass out of the post, and he also was able to throw an outlet pass off of a defensive rebound to show some passing skills.  On the downside, he can sometimes struggle to protect the basketball.  On one paly, he had a ball poked away off of a drive that led him to commit a turnover.

Also, Pecarksi was able to get his fair share of boards in this game.  He was able to leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Sometimes though, he would commit over the back and loose ball fouls when going for rebounds, as he can go too hard for boards.  He also missed when going for an offensive rebound once, and he was unable to get back on defense quick enough, as his team ended up allowing a fast break score.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he would jump on loose balls that his teammates would deflect to help his team get steals.  He also would hold his ground and contest shots when defending in the post to force some misses.  He also managed to close out on a three-point shooter to get another stop for his team.  On the downside, he would tend to bite on pump fakes when defending in the post, and he also struggled to defend quicker opponents off the dribble.  He also would be late to get down the court or to get back on defense, and he also would tend to give up too much space to shooters.

Overall, Marko Pecarski had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Mega Bemax.  He is a skilled, mobile big man that can score the basketball in a variety of ways.  He will still need to improve his rebounding and defense, but his ability to score and make plays with the ball in his hands could potentially enable him to be a second round pick in the 2022 draft.

Mega Bemax’s 6-6 swingman, Stefan Momirov generally struggled in his team’s loss to FMP Beograd, but he was still able to have some good moments at times in this game. Momirov is a spot-up shooter that generally has shot the three-ball well this season, but he struggled to make three-point shots off the catch in this game.  His opponents still respect his ability to make threes nonetheless, and on one play, he was able to draw three free throws on a spot-up three that he hoisted up midway through this match. Also, he showed a decent ability to score in the post.  Momirov used a quick spin move to score on a turnaround jumper off the glass.  Another time though, he used a quick spin, but he ended up missing on a turnaround jumper.

He also showcased decent playmaking skills in this game.  Momirov would dribble off of screens to throw timely passes to roll men to notch a pair of assists.  He also threw an accurate, long outlet pass to find a teammate on the break.  He also set an off-ball screen to help his teammate get an open driving lane.  Sometimes though, he can struggle to protect the basketball when handling it under pressure.  He also telegraphed an entry pass, which ended up getting intercepted that time.

He also was able to chase down balls to get several defensive boards in this game.  On one play though, he fell on an offensive rebound attempt and got knocked down, and crashing the offensive glass caused him to be late to get back on defense, as his teammate ended up fouling an opponent on a drive to the hoop.

Plus, he also played adequate defense.  He would chase down errant passes to get steals, and he also jumped on a deflected pass to help his team get another.  He would use his length and positioning to get opponents to miss on jumpers.  He also would actively guard opposing ball-handlers, as he was able to contest a shot to force a miss, and his activity when defending an inbounder also led his opponent to commit a passing turnover.

Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend quicker players off the dribble, and he also would tend to get outmuscled when defending in the post.  He struggled to defend screens, but there was one play where he didn’t even contest an open corner three, which led his team to allow the score.  He tended to give up too much space to shooters, and there were times where he wouldn’t contest shots despite being in the area. Overall, Stefan Momirov is a skilled shooter that can knock down three-point shots, but he struggled to make threes in this game.  He is only an average athlete, and he will need to prove that he can guard more athletic opponents at higher levels.  Still, his ability to knock down jump shots could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA.

Unfortunately for FMP Beograd’s 6-10 Slovenian big man Jurij Macura, he didn’t play much or make much of an impact at all in his team’s win over Mega Bemax.  He started the season off strong for Sixt Primorska, but he appears to have lost considerable momentum since joining FMP Beograd during the middle of the season after his former team, Primorska was disqualified and disbanded by the Adriatic League. Macura did not play many minutes at all in this match against Mega Bemax, and he was basically a non-factor in this contest. Late in this game, Macura appeared to recover to block a shot after getting beat off the dribble, but instead was called for committing a foul instead on that play.

Throughout this season, after such a strong start, Macura has struggled a bit to find his footing or place on FMP Beograd’s team.  He’s an athletic big man that can score, rebound, and provide some interior defense, but he has struggled to find his rhythm or playing time on his new team.  That’s kind of a shame, because if he had been able to get more playing time and if he were to have played as well for his new team as he had for his former team, Macura could’ve picked up some momentum to make a case to be a second round pick in this draft.  Right now, he’s most likely going to be undrafted this year, but he still has enough skills and upside to at least carve out a solid playing career overseas, and maybe at some point down the road, he could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA some day.

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