Evaluating Marko Simonovic and Borisa Simanic
May 1st, 2020
By Alan Lu
I decided to take the time to watch Mega Bemax’s 6-10 center Marko Simonovic play in an Adriatic League basketball game against Crvena Zvezda that took place on January 13th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d. Simonovic had recently declared to enter the 2020 draft, and he is a skilled big man that averaged roughly 16 points and 8 rebounds per game in this league. This game also presented the opportunity to watch Crvena Zvezda’s 6-11 forward, Borisa Simanic, who is a very good shooter that excels primarily as a floor spacer. I set out to watch both Simonovic and Simanic play, and here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.
Marko Simonovic is a mobile, skilled big man that excels at scoring on hustle plays. He would often score on rolls to the rim, as he would get the ball on the move, and he would score on powerful two-handed jams. He also caught a lob pass to score on an emphatic, alley-oop dunk another time. Sometimes though, he may go up too soft, which can lead him to miss shots in traffic.
He also showed an adequate ability to score in the post. He has good hands to catch entry passes, and he would get deep position to score and draw free throws around the basket. On the other hand, there was one play where he missed on a turnaround jump hook after getting an offensive rebound, but generally he was able to score when he would get close to the hoop.
He also flashed the ability to make jumpers to provide some floor spacing for his team on offense. Simonovic was able to make a mid-range jumper from the left elbow, and he also made an open three-point shot off of a pick and pop play. However, he struggled to consistently knock down spot-up threes when he would hoist up long-range jumpers from beyond the arc.
Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Simonovic has a decent first step to the hoop, and he can kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them. He also would set plenty of screens to help his teammates get open looks to score the basketball. He did commit a couple of turnovers, though. He was called for traveling when trying to score off of a drive, and he also dropped a catchable pass out of bounds another time.
Simonovic was also able to haul in his fair share of boards on both ends of the floor. He is an active, instinctive big man that will look to crash the glass, and he would leap up to get boards on both sides of the ball. Sometimes though, he would miss out on balls in his area, and he also would sometimes commit fouls when going for boards. He was called for a foul when going for a defensive board due to hooking his opponent’s arm, and he also fouled an opponent on a put back that led his team to allow a score and an extra free throw another time.
He also struggled defensively in this game. For the positives, Simonovic will look to play passing lanes, as he was able to jump an entry pass to get a steal due to possessing good length and anticipation skills, and he also rotated on a pick and roll ball handler to block a shot another time. He also managed to contest a shot in the post to force a miss late in this match. However, he generally struggled to defend in one-on-one situations. He would tend to get outmuscled and beat on moves to allow scores in the post. He also would tend to commit fouls when defending drives, as he would struggle to stay in front of his man. He also would tend not to call out screens or communicate to his teammates on defense, which would lead his team to allow opponents to score on jumpers. Sometimes, he would be unfocused on the defensive end, which would lead his team to allow scores.
Overall, Marko Simonovic is a skilled, mobile big man that can score in the post as well as on off-ball motion plays, and he put up strong numbers in the Adriatic League this year. On the downside, he will need to improve his face-up game and defensive skills. Right now, he may be a second round prospect if he stays in this draft, and he has the skills to be an effective backup center similar to former NBA journeyman, Andrew DeClercq in the league.
Crvena Zvezda’s 6-11 forward, Borisa Simanic also played in this game, and though he didn’t exactly have a great game due to fouling out in less than ten minutes of play, he still showed off some solid offensive skills when he was on the court. Overall, he’s played well in his role in both the Adriatic League and in the Euroleague, which makes him a strong contender to be picked in the second round this year.
Simanic showed a good ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team. Midway through this contest, he utilized a pump fake and a step back move to make a pull-up three-pointer off of a pick and pop play. He also managed to score on a smooth layup off of a roll to the rim. He did miss one shot as he got the ball down court after running the floor hard to get it, but he missed on a baffling, 360 degree, layup on the break after an opponent tried to swipe the ball away from him.
He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Simanic didn’t really look to put the ball on the floor that often, but he would move the ball to find open shooters, and set screens for his teammates. He did throw a pass that got deflected out of bounds after briefly handling the ball up court once. His lone turnover came when he got bowled over by a defender in the backcourt to lose the ball, although that should have been a foul on his opponent instead. Still, he could perhaps look to improve his upper body strength, as he was unable to protect the basketball that time.
Defensively, he looked to be about average at best. For the positives, Simanic is an active position defender that would contest three-point shots to force misses, and he would run back hard on defense. However, he tended to pick up quick fouls, as he had trouble guarding opponents on drives, and he also would commit touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness. There was another play where he didn’t communicate to a teammate that a screen was coming, which led his team to allow an opponent to score on a three midway in this game.
In summary, this was not Simanic’s best game, but it’s clear that his best skill is his strong ability to make jumpers to space the floor for his team. His size, shooting ability, and mobility makes him an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the mid to late second round range of the 2020 draft, but his lack of elite physical tools and shot creation ability may make him a limited use sort of player at that level. He will need to improve his defensive skills and ability to create his own shot, but his ability to knock down outside shots could enable him to be an effective role player similar to former NBA journeyman forward, James Jones in the association.
This also was an opportunity to watch Mega Bemax’s 6-9, 1999-born forward, Jurij Macura from Slovenia. Macura is an athletic, energetic big man that excelled at scoring on rolls to the rim, and he managed to score on an emphatic, two-handed jam early on. He also would set plenty of screens to help his teammate get open looks to score the basketball. Defensively, he looked to be about average at best. On the plus side, he would also rotate on drives to help his team force some misses. Sometimes though, he had some trouble defending on screens, and he also would commit fouls when guarding opponents in one-on-one situations.
Overall, Macura is a mobile, agile big man that could potentially be a player to watch in 2021 due to his ability to run the floor and finish plays above the rim. However, he will need to be able to find consistent playing time in a fairly high-level basketball league, as that could help build up his draft stock. Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft, but he could be an interesting draft-and-stash option for an NBA team then if he plays well overseas next season.