Analyzing Nenad Dimitrijevic
April 3rd, 2020
by Alan Lu
I decided to take the time to watch Joventut’s 6-1, 1998-born, Macedonian point guard Nenad Dimitrijevic play in a Spanish ACB League game against Real Madrid that took place on February 2nd, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via AB – Basket. Dimitrijevic has been playing well in a very tough league this year, and this match also featured another prospect in Latvian point guard, Arturs Zagars, who some NBA scouts were high on to start the season, as well as former NBA lottery pick, Anthony Randolph. I mostly used this as an opportunity to watch Dimitrijevic play, and he is a smart, skilled point guard that can effectively run a team at the point. Here are my thoughts on how he fared in this game, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.
Nenad Dimitrijevic is a skilled playmaker that knows how to effectively run a team. He is a good passer and ball handler that tends to make good reads and throw timely passes to notch assists, as he can often find the open man, and he does a good job of finding his teammates on the move to set up scores for them. He can throw no-look passes to get shooters the basketball, and he also passes well off the dribble. He can throw crisp passes as well as use soft touch on his passes to set up a variety of scoring chances for his teammates. Sometimes though, he can be prone to throwing inaccurate passes that may be dropped by his teammates, and he also had a ball poked away that led his team to allow a fast break score the other way.
He also did a decent job of scoring on strong drives to the basket. Dimitrijevic can finish plays using either hand, as he can patiently get scores at the rim, and he also used a hesitation move when going to his left to score on an off-balanced, fadeaway jumper another time. Sometimes though, he doesn’t always have his balance or his shooting touch, and he can play too fast which can lead him to miss shots off the dribble.
Also, Dimitrijevic possesses an adequate ability to make jumpers to help his team space the floor. He was able to calmly make an open, pull-up three, and he has a fairly quick release that enables him to get his shot off. He also had ample time and space to make the shot, but he can knock down jumpers when given room to do so. On the down side, he also missed a pull-up three completely another time, as he appeared to have it blocked, and he also missed on a mid-range jumper off the dribble on a separate play.
Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Dimitrijevic was able to leap up to get a defensive board, as he then brought the ball up afterwards. On the downside, he was called for a loose ball foul late in this contest, as he was caught reaching in when trying to get an offensive board that time.
He also played adequate defense in this game. Dimitrijevic is an active help defender, as he was able to run in to intercept a bounce pass to get a steal, and he also rotated to poke a ball away from behind to prevent an opponent from scoring on a put back due to possessing good timing. He also would work hard to stay in front of his man, as he would fight through screens, and he also was able to contest a pull-up three to force a miss. Sometimes though, he would have trouble fighting through screens, which would lead his team to allow opponents to score on three-point shots. There was another play where he tried too hard to jump a passing lane but missed on his gamble, which led him to be unable to rotate to defend an open shooter, and then allowed a three-point score to his man. Other times, he can struggle to defend quicker ball handlers, which can lead him to commit fouls in the process. Late in this game, he was subbed out on a couple of defensive possessions in crunch time, but Dimitrijevic would come back in the game to help his team on offense.
In general, Nenad Dimitrijevic is a solid, offensive-minded point guard that is an effective facilitator for his team, and he can also make shots when he is called upon to do so. He is a subtly agile player that can accelerate to create shots for himself and his teammates, but his average size and athletic gifts may make it difficult for him to be able to consistently get into the lane or to defend at higher levels. Right now, he projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the 2020 NBA Draft. He may not possess a whole lot of upside, but he is a skilled, high IQ playmaker that can comfortably run the point, and he could end up being a reliable backup point guard similar to Detroit Pistons’ Tim Frazier in the NBA.
Joventut’s 2000-born point guard, Arturs Zagars started out fairly high on several people’s lists to start the season, but he’s struggled to make shots or to get consistent playing time this season. His stock has since plummeted, but his promising offensive skills combined with his above average athletic gifts could get him some looks late in the second round if he were to declare for the NBA draft.
In this game though, he did not shoot the ball well. Zagars did manage to score a layup on an open drive in transition. However, he missed all of his three-point shots, as he was unable to make them off the catch or dribble, even when he had plenty of time and space to get his shot off. He also missed on off-balanced layup on a left-handed drive to the hoop another time, and he ended up missing it short.
Zagars displayed decent playmaking skills. He was able to get one nifty assist, as he drove in and threw a no-look pass out to a shooter in the corner to set up a score, as he possesses good court vision. He’s an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can weave in and out of traffic when handling the basketball. However, he did commit one turnover as he lost the ball when handling it, which led him to commit an over and back violation. On that play, he seemed to have a fairly high dribble, and it appeared as if the defender had poked it away from him. Zagars seemed to have a high dribble, so he can struggle to control the basketball when faced with heavy ball pressure.
He also played fairly average defense in this game. Zagars was able to run in to poke a ball away from behind to get a steal. He also fought through a screen and helped trap an opposing ball handler, as his opponent then threw an inaccurate pass that was intercepted by another player. On the downside, Zagars had trouble defending quicker players off the dribble, and he can sometimes struggle to fight through screens, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
In summary, Arturs Zagars did not have his best game, as he struggled to make shots, and had some trouble with his position defense in his team’s win over Real Madrid. He was able to get some run midway through this contest, but he did not play in crunch time with the game on the line. Right now, Zagars probably will need to wait another season and continue to hone his game overseas, and he is not ready to make the jump to the NBA. At this stage, it’s possible that one NBA team may take a flier on him late in the second round as a draft and stash candidate. But if he can improve his jump shot and on-ball defense significantly, Zagars could end up being a legitimate draft prospect in 2021.
Real Madrid’s Anthony Randolph had a solid showing in this game, as he excelled at making open, spot-up threes from beyond the arc, and he especially showed a knack for draining corner threes in this game. He also was able to get to the free throw line off of drives and cuts, and he also was able to lead the break to set up a score for a teammate in transition.
Randolph also rebounded the ball well, and he also was able to block a mid-range shot, as he is a good defender. On the downside, he also was called for setting a couple of moving screens, and he was fairly turnover prone on offense in this game against Joventut.
Overall, Anthony Randolph is a very athletic, skilled player that can play a variety of positions, and his strong athletic gifts combined with his three-point shooting skills could enable him to be a role player in the NBA, if he opts to go that path. If he decides to stay overseas, he will likely continue to have a very good career in professional basketball, as he has been a very good player for Real Madrid.