Assessing Blaz Mesicek
October 3, 2018
by Alan Lu
I took the opportunity to watch Union Olimpija’s 6-6, 1997-born guard Blaz Mesicek from Slovenia play in an Adriatic League game in which he scored 16 points, and notched 7 assists and 5 rebounds to help his team get a victory over them. With thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d., I was able to see him play against Mornar in a September 28th match. He played a solid all-around game on this day, and it was also an opportunity to watch other prospects such as Luka Samanic and Roko Badzim, and Washington Wizards’ rights-held guard Issuf Sanon also participated in this contest.
Blaz Mesicek is an agile, skilled basketball player that can play multiple positions. He primarily excelled as a scorer off the dribble, as he can change speeds to score on half-court drives, and he also has a fairly quick first step to the hoop. Mesicek also will push the pace on the break, and he also managed to catch a lob pass to score a layup off the glass in transition. But sometimes he may not always get to the rim, which can lead him to take some tough shots that can lead to misses. He did not look to take many jumpers, but he did make a deep, spot-up three from well beyond NBA range. Mesicek also took a contested, pull-up mid-range jumper, but missed on that occasion.
Also, Mesicek displayed fairly good playmaking skills. He is a patient player that tends to make good reads, as he will find the open man, and he can find teammates on the move. He also can play the point every once in a while, and he also moves fairly well off the ball on offense. However, he also can be quite turnover prone at times. He can play too fast, as he may dribble into situations where he may get the ball poked away, and he can struggle to protect the basketball. Other times, he may throw hasty passes towards traffic that can get intercepted by defenders.
Plus, he showed a fairly good ability to rebound the basketball. He is an energetic player that will actively crash the glass, and he would leap up to get defensive rebounds. Also, Mesicek was able to chase down a ball to get an offensive board for his team. Defensively, he looked to be about average. For the positives, he possesses adequate footwork when defending out on the perimeter, and showed the ability to fight through screens and challenge jump shots. But he also struggled to defend screens, as this would lead his team to allow scores. On another play when defending on a fast break, he allowed a rim runner to get past him to receive a bounce pass in order to score in transition.
In general, Blaz Mesicek had a quality showing to help lead his team to a double-digit victory over Mornar. Right now though, he may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft. He is an above average athlete that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he is also an unselfish player that can get assists. However, he can be reluctant to take jumpers, and it may be uncertain if he can defend upper echelon players at his position. Currently, his skill set may be somewhat similar to former Toronto Raptors guard, Sonny Weems. If Mesicek can continue to play well, and improve his jump shot and position defense, he could end up being a good role player in the NBA.
Union Olimpija’s 6-10 2000-born, Croatian big man, Luka Samanic played late in this game, as he only was on the floor when his team had a comfortable lead over their opponent. It is notable that he played in this contest, as he is a player in which some draft services presently may consider him to be a potential first round prospect. There really wasn’t much that he did in this game, but one takeaway is that he is a fairly good athlete that needs to add strength. Samanic has adequate mobility, as he possesses the ability to check slower footed guards out on the perimeter.
He also made a couple of mistakes on the defensive end due to over-aggressiveness, as he over-helped in the paint and was late to close out on a three-point shooter in the corner to allow a score, and he also bit on a pump fake to allow a score in transition. On offense, he will also set screens, although his thin frame may make it hard for him to set effective picks to free up his teammate for open shots. Samanic did take a wide-open three on the final possession of this game, but he ended up missing that shot. He will look to pass the basketball, but he committed one turnover as he tried to throw a crosscourt pass from the high post towards traffic.
Overall, it was disappointing that Samanic did not get to play more, but Union Olimpija still ended up winning this match by 21 points, so they didn’t really need him to play meaningful minutes against Mornar. It’s tough to say how his game would project into the NBA after watching him play for about four minutes, but likely his draft range could be anywhere from the late first to anywhere in the second round, as he may project into being a mobile stretch big at the next level.
6-6, 1997-born Croatian guard, Roko Badzim is a rotation player for Union Olimpija, though his performance on this day seemed to be a bit underwhelming. He did a good job of moving the basketball, though he also seemed to be too passive on offense. He also took only one shot in this game despite having been on the floor for about 11 minutes, as he missed on a pull-up three-point shot late in this match.
He also showed off some rebounding and defensive skills, and he is an energetic player that will actively look to stay with his man on defense. But sometimes, he can gamble a little too much defensively, which can lead him to being out of position. In this game, Badzim appears to be an effective team player in the Adriatic League, but he may have a long way to go before being considered a serious prospect for the NBA based on his performance against Mornar. He did not score a single point in this game, and he is only an above average athlete at best. He didn’t show much overall on this day, but if he can shoot as well as he did last year, he could perhaps be a candidate for the late second round in the 2019 draft.
Other Notes, Part II:
This also presented an opportunity to check in on the progress of Wizards’ rights-held guard, Issuf Sanon, as he was playing for Union Olimpija in this game. He flashed some interesting skills, but unfortunately he did not play very well overall. For the positives, he is an athletic, high motor combo guard that can sufficiently run the point, and he will apply heavy ball pressure on the defensive end. He has good speed and quickness, and he has the footwork to develop into a shut down defender one day. On the downside, his tendency to be undisciplined on defense led him to commit fouls and allow scores.
On offense, he showed off some playmaking skills, but he was unable to make any field goals, as he struggled to make shots off the dribble. Sanon was inaccurate on some of his passes, which led to some turnovers, but he did show a knack for throwing entry passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.
Right now, he may be far from being a polished prospect, and he will need to improve significantly on the offensive end, and he will need to be a more disciplined position defender in games. Sanon will likely need to remain overseas for several years, as he will need a lot of work to develop into a useful NBA player. If he does end up being successful in the NBA, he could perhaps end up being like a Jason Hart type of player in the league.