Assessing Filip Petrusev, Marko Simonovic, and Malcolm Cazalon

October 20th, 2020

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch former Gonzaga standout, 6-11 big man Filip Petrusev play for Mega Bemax in an Adriatic League game against Zadar that took place on October 11th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d.  This match featured numerous other prospects, including 2020 draft entrant Marko Simonovic, who also like Petrusev, had been playing well in this league, as well as Malcolm Cazalon, who is a promising 6-6 guard from France.  Here are my thoughts on how those players fared in their team’s win over Zadar, and how their games may stack up in the NBA.

Former Gonzaga center, Filip Petrusev is starring for Mega Bemax overseas, and he is a talented big man that currently projects to be a second round prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft.
(Photo:
Ivica Veselinov/Mega Bemax, via aba-liga.com)

Filip Petrusev played very well in his team’s win over Zadar.  He is an agile, physical big man that has solid inside scoring skills, and he also is a skilled player that showed off some defensive skills when he was on the court.

Petrusev showed a solid ability to score in the post.  He did a very good job of scoring down low, as he would often catch high entry passes, and he would turn and make a simple drop step to get plenty of scores and free throws, and he also threw down a powerful two-handed dunk late in this game.  Plus, he also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble, and he managed to score on an aggressive, right-handed drive while getting an extra free throw simultaneously.

He also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Petrusev ran the floor and used a quick ball fake to score on a powerful, two-handed jam on the break, and he also managed to score off of a cut.  He would frequently draw fouls after getting the ball on rolls to the rim, but he did get his shot blocked by a smaller defender late in this contest, as he waited a bit too long and held the ball too low, which enabled the defender to swat the shot.

Also, Petrusev flashed the ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  He was able to make a face-up, mid-range jumper from the baseline midway through, but he missed a mid-range shot another time, and he also missed two three-point shots off the catch.

Plus, he also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Petrusev showed off some ball handling skills when he dribbled the ball up the court after getting his second steal of the game.  He also showed that he can pass out of the post, he also would set hard screens to help get his teammates get open on drives to set up scores for them.  However, after trying to post up early on, he was called for a three-seconds in the key violation after his teammate took too long to try to throw him the ball down low.  Another time, he dropped a low bounce pass that went through his legs that led to another turnover, though the latter was more because of his teammate’s inaccurate pass instead.

In addition, Petrusev was able to get his fair share of boards, and he would leap up to get some defensive rebounds on occasion. Also, Petrusev played decent defense in this game.  He would play passing lanes to get steals, and he also ran back to intercept an entry pass to get his second steal due to possessing a long reach, as well as solid anticipation skills.  He also rotated to block a shot off of a drive early on, and he showed solid leaping ability, timing, and instincts to do so.  Plus, he also would rotate to contest shots in the paint, and he also was active in contesting jumpers as well as shots in the post to force misses.  However, sometimes he would tend to over-help by doubling off of his own man, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on open shots.  Other times, he struggled to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

In general, Filip Petrusev is a skilled, mobile big man that had a solid showing to help lead his team to a win over Zadar, and he excelled as a scorer, but also showed off some ball handling and defensive skills in this game.  He will need to improve his passing ability and show that he can guard quicker opponents in space.  Still, Petrusev seemed to help himself by playing well in this game, and he is a second round prospect for the 2020 draft, as he could be an effective rotation player in the NBA.

Marko Simonovic is a mobile, skilled big man that made some solid plays both ends of the court to help his team get the victory over Zadar.  He generally showed a solid ability to score in the paint, and he also showed some handles and defensive skills when he was on the court.

He generally did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Simonovic ran the floor to score on a thunderous, two-handed dunk in transition, and he also rolled to the rim to score on an emphatic jam another time.  He also pushed the ball up the floor to draw a non-shooing foul on another play.  He also attempted to score on a backdoor cut, but he ended up missing on a rushed tip shot.

He also showed off a decent ability to score in the post.  Simonovic backed his man down to score on a quick, right-handed jump hook while drawing an extra free throw.  He displayed a solid shooting touch as well as the ability to draw fouls when posting up defenders on the block.  He also attempted to score on an aggressive drive, but he ended up missing the shot in traffic.

Simonovic also took numerous spot-up threes in this game.  He made one after setting an off-ball screen on a pick and pop play in the third quarter, but he had trouble making three-point shots consistently from beyond the arc, as he had a tendency to rush his shots.

He also displayed above average playmaking skills.  Simonovic can pass and handle the basketball, as he can throw timely passes to find teammates on the move, and he also can lead the break to find open teammates ahead on offense.  He would set screens to help his teammates get open shots.  However, he also threw a couple of passes that ended up getting intercepted by defenders.

He also was able to haul in his fair share of boards to help his team get rebounds, and he would usually push the ball up the court after getting defensive rebounds.  However, on one play, he committed a loose ball foul when going for a defensive board once.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Simonovic showed that he can rotate to block shots due to possessing decent mobility and timing to do so.  He also was able to deflect a pass to nearly get a steal, and he would make his rotations to make it difficult to handle the ball or to get their shots up.  However, he struggled to defend opponents off the dribble, as he bit on a pump fake once, and he also got beat off the dribble another time, which would lead his team to allow scores.  Other times, he would be late on his rotations, which would cause him to give up too much space to shooters.  Another time, he was called for an off-ball foul as a result of pushing his opponent in the back that time.

In summary, Marko Simonovic had his ups and downs, but overall, he had some solid moments to help his team get the win over Zadar.  He is a solid post player that can finish plays around the basket, and he also can handle the basketball.  He will need to improve his perimeter skills and defense.  Right now, he is a second round prospect for the 2020 draft, and his solid combination of inside scoring skills, motor, and above-average athleticism could allow him to be an effective role player in the NBA.

Mega Bemax’s 6-6 guard, Malcolm Cazalon had a decent showing in his team’s win over Zadar.  He excelled at shooting and scoring the basketball in limited minutes, though he also tended to pick up quick fouls on the defensive end.

Cazalon made a pair of corner threes off the catch, and he did a much better job of knocking down outside shots than he’s shown previously.  Plus, he ran the floor to score on a high-flying dunk in transition.  He also drove right off of a screen towards the hoop, but he ended up missing on a contorted, switch of hands runner that time.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Cazalon showed the willingness to move the basketball, and would move quickly off the ball on offense.  However, he tended to step out of bounds when catching passes that led him to commit a couple of turnovers, and he also dropped a bounce pass on a cut that went to an opponent that led to another.

On the downside, he did not grab a rebound in this game, and he will also need to improve his defense.  For the positives, he managed to deflect a pass out of bounds to nearly get a steal, and Cazalon was active at defending out on the perimeter.  However, he struggled to stay in front of his man defensively, as he would tend to get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit a slew of reach-in fouls as a result.

Overall, Malcolm Cazalon played fairly well, as he excelled at making shots efficiently to help his team on offense.  He will need to improve his rebounding and defense.  Right now, he is an athletic, energetic swingman that currently projects to be a second round prospect for the 2021 draft.  If things break his way, he could end up being an effective rotation player similar to current New Orleans Pelicans guard, E’Twaun Moore in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Mega Bemax’s 6-6, 1999-born Serbian swingman, Stefan Momirov put forth an excellent performance to help lead his team to a win over Zadar.  He showed off impressive outside shooting skills, and he is an excellent spot-up shooter that managed to make seven three-pointers in this game.

He did a great job of making threes to space the floor for his team.  He would move off the ball to knock down outside shots quickly, and he has a quick release that enables him to easily get his shot off.  He also managed to draw free throws on a put back after leaping up to get an offensive board.

Momirov also displayed decent playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that would make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and he has solid court vision that allows him to find teammates even when he operates off the dribble.  However, he threw a couple of inaccurate passes that resulted in turnovers, and he took too long to throw a pass to a post player that ended up with his teammate being called for a three-seconds in the key violation. He also was able to leap up to get his fair share of boards to help his team get rebounds in this contest.

Defensively, he looked to be average at best.  Momirov was able to jump on a loose ball to help his team get a steal, and he also deflected a pass out of bounds another time.  On a separate play, he hustled back on defense, which forced his man to pass instead.  However, he struggled to stay in front of his man and he would sometimes be late on his rotations, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would sag too far off shooters and not even bother to rotate to them, which would cause him to allow them to score on three-point shots.

Overall, Stefan Momirov is a skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball.  He will need to improve his defense, and he does not possess elite physical tools, but his ability to knock down jump shots could enable him to be a potential second round pick in the 2021 draft. 

Mega Bemax’s 6-10, 1999-born big man, Nikola Miskovic played fairly well in his team’s win over Zadar.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, but he will need to improve his defensive skills in the meantime. Miskovic showed a solid ability to make quick, spot-up threes off the catch.  He also excelled as a scorer in transition, as he ran the floor and took on contact to score on a layup off the glass, and he also ran in to score on a tip slam after getting an offensive rebound another time.  Sometimes though, he would miss on put backs due to rushing.

He also managed to run quickly off the ball, as he made a quick turnaround mid-range jumper, and Miskovic generally did a good job of knocking down shots in this game.

He displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He would sometimes look to move the basketball on offense.  There was one play though where he was called for an up and down violation after getting his shot blocked on a put back attempt in traffic, though he did appear to get fouled that time.

Also, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Miskovic was especially active at crashing the offensive glass, and he was able to haul in many offensive boards.  However, he struggled more to get defensive rebounds. On one play, he committed a foul on a put back once, and he got outmuscled another time to allow a put back score.

He also really struggled defensively.  On one good possession, he held his ground when defending in the post, as he contested the shot to force a miss.  However, he tended to get beat off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would be caught ball watching, and he would be out of position when defending cuts or off the dribble, which would lead his team to give up baskets to the opposition.

Overall, Nikola Miskovic is a skilled big man that can make a variety of shots to help his team on offense, and he also may be an above average athlete.  On the downside, he really struggled to defend in this game, which may have limited or reduced his playing time as a result.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft.

Mega Bemax’s 6-7, 2000-born point forward, Luka Cerovina had a fairly decent game in his team’s win over Zadar.  He struggled to make shots consistently and he wasn’t very assertive on offense, but he did a good job of passing and moving the basketball to rack up assists.

Cerovina was able to move off the ball to make a quick three off the catch, but he struggled to knock down jumpers consistently in this game.  He did score on an aggressive drive right to the hoop once.  He also drew free throws on a layup after running the floor hard to get the ball on the break.  However, he also missed on a reverse layup off of a cut, as he was unable to make the shot when the help arrived.

Cerovina displayed solid playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that would consistently look to get his teammates the basketball, and he would throw crisp, pinpoint passes to find teammates on the move to set up numerous scores for them.  He also would sometimes bring the ball up the court.  However, he also committed a couple of ball-handling turnovers in this game.  He committed a traveling violation off of a drive, as well as a charging foul when trying to take the ball hard to the rim.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and Cerovina was aggressive in getting his hands on balls to help his team get defensive boards in this game. However, he will need to improve his defense.  For the positives, he managed to get his hands on a pass to get a steal, and he also closed out hard on a three-point shooter to force a miss another time.  However, he tended to struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, and he would sometimes be late on his rotations, which would put his team out of position to allow scores.

Overall, Luka Cerovina is a skilled offensive player that can shoot and pass the basketball.  On the other hand, he will need to improve his defense, and he does not possess elite physical tools, as he is only an average athlete.  Right now, he will need to continue to improve as an overall player, but he could be a potential second round pick whenever he decides to declare to enter the NBA draft.

Zadar’s 6-2 point guard and former UC Irvine standout, Eyassu Worku had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Mega Bemax.  He played very well in the first quarter, but he seemed to fade into the background as the game wore on.

On offense, he showed off a decent ability to knock down jump shots.  Worku made an open corner three off the catch early on, and he also made a quick, step back, pull-up jumper from the mid-range.  He struggled to make mid-range shots consistently, but he was effective in making spot-up threes off the catch.  Also, he was able to push the ball up the court to draw free throws when handling the ball in transition, but he only made one of two free throws when he was at the line.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Worku was able to throw sharp interior passes, and he was able to find a teammate on the break to notch an assist once.  Also, he did not turn the ball over once on offense.

Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active at crashing the glass to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to push the ball up the floor once after getting a defensive rebound.  Defensively, he didn’t look to be too noticeable though.   

Overall, Eyassu Worku was able to show some skills at times, as he could knock down some jumpers, showed a willingness to throw interior passes, and he was able to grab some rebounds to help his team on the glass.  In sparse moments, Worku showed above average athletic gifts, as well as the ability to knock down jumpers and create off the dribble to inject some fuel into his team’s offense.  

So far this season overseas though, Worku has struggled to shoot the ball or to get assists on a consistent basis.  He is an agile, gritty point guard that had a solid senior season at UC Irvine, but he will need to work on his jump shot and focus on his decision-making in the meantime. 

Right now, he looks to be a long shot to be drafted for the 2020 draft, but it’s a good thing that he managed to find playing time in a tough and competitive Adriatic League for the 2020-21 season.  If he can overcome his early season struggles at Zadar and find a way to settle in and get into a groove, he could end up being a solid role player for them this season, and over time, his potential to knock down jumpers and create off the dribble could enable him to be a rotation player similar to former Golden State Warriors’ guard, Ian Clark in the NBA someday.

Zadar’s 6-5, 2003-born swingman, Duje Brala had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Mega Bemax in this game.  He did a good job of knocking outside shots, and he showed that he can be a solid marksman from beyond the arc.

Brala did a great job of shooting the basketball.  He would run quickly off the ball, and Brala was able to make a couple of open corner threes off the catch to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He moved well off the ball, and he can run off of ball screens to knock down three-point shots effectively.  He did miss on a long two as well as on a layup in traffic in transition after colliding into an opponent.  Still, it was a notable achievement that Brala was able to make two threes swiftly late in this game.

He also is an unselfish player that would make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and Brala showed decent playmaking skills in this game.  Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he would leap up to actively get defensive boards for his team. However, he will need to improve defensively.  He struggled to defend on the ball, and he would sometimes get beat off the dribble or get caught ball watching, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Duje Brala is an interesting player to keep an eye on in the future.  He will be eligible for the 2022 NBA draft, and he is a skilled offensive player that can shoot, pass, and rebound the basketball.  He will need to improve his ability to create his own shot and defend, and he may possess at best above average athletic gifts.  He is a skilled offensive player that can space the floor, and his ability to knock down outside shots could project allow him to go in the second round range in 2022 or in future drafts.

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