Evaluating Nikola Djurisic, Malcolm Cazalon, and Mario Nakic

October 12th, 2022

By Alan Lu

This time around, I decided to watch Mega Basket’s 6-8 swingman, Nikola Djurisic play in an October 9th Adriatic League game against BC Igokea, with thanks to YouTube via ABA Liga j.t.d.  He is an athletic, skilled playmaker that has solid offensive skills, and he could end up being a first round pick in the 2023 draft.  This game also featured other prospects such as Malcolm Cazalon and Mario Nakic, both of whom could contend to be mid to late second round picks on draft day.  Here are my thoughts on how Djurisic and other various prospects fared in this game.

Mega Basket’s 6-8 forward, Nikola Djurisic is an offensively skilled playmaker that could end up being a first round pick in the 2023 draft.
(Photo:
Milan Rašić/Mega MIS)

Mega Basket’s 6-8 forward, Nikola Djurisic had a solid showing in his team’s loss to BC Igokea.  He is a skilled, mobile swingman that excelled as a scorer and playmaker, though he also struggled with his outside shot in this game.

Djurisic showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  He is a shifty scorer that has a good first step, and he would often make aggressive moves to the hoop to draw fouls and frequently get to the free throw line.  He also has a solid spin move that enables him to quickly get around defenders, which can enable him to score or draw free throws around the basket.  He also has good balance, body control, and finishing ability that enables him to regularly score at the rim.

On the downside, he struggled with his outside shot in this game.  On one good play, he dribbled to his left and used a pump fake to score on a mid-range jumper.  He also utilized a rip through move to draw free throws on a baseline, mid-range jump shot.  However, Djurisic had trouble knocking down threes, and he couldn’t find his shooting touch from beyond the arc.

He also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills.  Djurisic can pass and handle the basketball, and he is a creative playmaker that has good court vision.  He would maneuver around to throw acrobatic jump passes to roll men to notch assists, and he showed a knack for weaving pinpoint, outlet passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates on the break.  On the downside, he would sometimes commit careless turnovers in this game.  At times, he would tend to throw hasty, loopy interior passes that would get intercepted.  Early in the game, he got overly anxious when catching the ball out on the perimeter, and he took too many steps before dribbling, which led him to commit a traveling violation.  He also was called for a charging foul when looking to pass on a separate possession.

While he didn’t get many rebounds in this game, Djurisic was able to collect a pair of defensive boards when he was on the floor.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, he would run in to get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and Djurisic also rotated to successfully draw charges to get stops due to solid positioning.  Sometimes he would be late on his rotations, which would lead them to give up open threes.  Other times, he would take bad gambles, which would lead him to get beat off the dribble and wind up out of position.  Other times, he would guard an area instead of a man, and his team would allow scores as a result.

In general, Nikola Djurisic is an athletic, skilled swingman that did a good job of scoring and passing the basketball, and he is a skilled point forward that can deftly make plays with the ball in his hands.  He will need to improve his jump shot and defense, but he is a talented prospect that could end up going in the late first to the second round range of the 2023 draft, and he could project to be a reliable role player similar to former Sacramento Kings’ forward, Omri Casspi in the NBA.

Mega Basket’s 6-6 swingman, Malcolm Cazalon put forth a very good performance in his team’s October 9th game against BC Igokea.
(Photo:
Dragana Stjepanovic/ABA League j.t.d, via ABA Liga)

Malcolm Cazalon also had a strong showing, as he showed off solid all-around skills to help his team in this game.  He looked to have been the most athletic player on the court, and he is a versatile playmaker that thrived at making plays on both ends of the floor.

Cazalon did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  He has a quick crossover move, and he can finish plays using either hand.  He also will drive the ball hard to the hoop, and he has a solid first step combined with having good body control that will enable him to get fouled in order to get to the free throw line.  He also drove up court to score on a powerful dunk on a drive in transition.

He also showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  Cazalon is an athletic guard that runs the floor well, and he would score off of cuts and on fast breaks.  However, he was quite streaky with his jumper when he would take outside shots.  For the positives, he was able to run quickly off of a screen to make a quick three off the catch, and he also pulled up to knock down another.  However, he struggled to consistently make threes or mid-range jumpers, and he especially struggled to make spot-up jumpers from the outside.

Also, Cazalon displayed solid playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that would patiently find the open man, and he would throw accurate interior passes to find open teammates on the move due to possessing solid court vision.  On one play though, he threw a loopy touch pass that got intercepted.  He also received the ball in the corner another time, but ended up dribbling the ball out of bounds. 

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Cazalon was able to get a defensive board off of a tap out.  Plus, Cazalon also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He did a terrific job of getting steals, and he would often get his hands on passes to get a plethora of steals and deflections.  He also would poke balls to nearly get other steals, and sometimes he would close out on shooters to force misses.  On the downside, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble or off cuts, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would over-help in the paint and sag too far off of shooters, which would lead him to give up open jump shots.

Overall, Malcolm Cazalon played very well, and he excelled at making plays throughout this contest.  He especially thrived at making hustle plays, and he is an athletic swingman that can play a multitude of positions on the court.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter on the floor, but he is an athletic, skilled swingman that could be a solid find for an NBA team on draft day.

Mario Nakic had a fairly solid showing to help lead BC Igokea to a win over Mega Basket in this game.  While he struggled to make shots consistently, he showed off versatile scoring skills, and he is a tall, playmaking swingman that was able to make plays on both ends of the court.

Nakic showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  He was a bit streaky with his shot, but he was able to make a pair of open, spot-up threes off the catch.  He also was able to score or draw free throws off of cuts, put backs, and on fast breaks.  On the downside, he struggled to consistently score off the dribble, especially in traffic, and he had some trouble knocking down outside shots at times.

Also, he showed off perhaps adequate playmaking skills.  Nakic is an unselfish player that will get the ball to shooters, and he will make the extra pass to find the open man.  He will sometimes push the ball up the court to create fast break scoring opportunities for his team, and he would look to find shooters on the break.  On one play though, he threw a loopy pass that ended up getting intercepted. Nakic also did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass to help his team get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he would tend to push the pace after grabbing defensive rebounds. 

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he would run in to get his hands on passes to get steals, and he would actively contest jumpers to force misses.  He would look to stay in front of opposing ball handlers, and he was able to help force an up and down violation from an opposing ball handler that was looking to pass.  However, he tended to get beat off the dribble when defending out on the perimeter, and other times he would not cut off the penetration, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also often had trouble fighting through screens, and he would give up open three-point shots.  Sometimes he would rotate to cover for his teammates, but would end up committing fouls that would at times compound matters if opponents would also score on those possessions.

Overall, Mario Nakic is an agile, skilled swingman that showed some skills on both ends of the floor, but he will need to be a more consistent player on the court.  He will need to take and make more outside shots on a consistent basis, and he will need to improve his defense.  Currently, he is a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.  Even if he doesn’t end up making it to the NBA, Nakic could still carve out a solid, lengthy playing career overseas.

Other Notes:

Among the other draft-eligible prospects that played in this game, here were my thoughts on some of the other players that managed to play well and make a favorable impression upon me.

BC Igokea’s 6-4 point guard, Kosta Kondic had a strong showing in his team’s win over Mega Basket.  He thrived as a shooter and scorer off the bench, and he did a terrific job of drawing fouls upon his defenders to frequently get to the free throw line.  Kondic excelled at driving to his left to score and get free throws.  He also shot the ball well, and he was able to make an open, spot-up three off the catch.  Plus, he showed a knack for drawing free throws on deep pull-up threes from beyond the arc.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Kondic showed that he can make drive and kick passes, and he also threw a very long outlet pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break.  On one play though, he drove hard to the hoop, but collided into a defender and was called for a charging foul, which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.

He didn’t grab any rebounds in this game.  Also, Kondic played perhaps adequate defense.  He defended an opposing ball handler tough and fought through a screen to stay with him to force a pass once.  On another play, he rotated but got beat off of a cut, and he didn’t put himself in position to contest the shot, which led him to give up the basket.

Overall, Kosta Kondic played marvelously in this game, and he thrived as a shooter, scorer, and playmaker when he was on the floor.  He is an agile, skilled combo guard that could be due for many more minutes this season.  He hasn’t drawn much draft buzz so far, but he could project to be a reliable backup point guard in the NBA in the future.

Mega Basket’s 6-9 Croatian forward, Matej Rudan also played well in this game.  He is a below the rim player that may not possess ideal athletic gifts for the next level, but he is a fundamentally sound player that would make plays to score and defend throughout this contest.

Rudan did a good job of scoring from the post.  He excelled as a finisher on the block, which enabled him to score on a jump hook while getting fouled, and he also utilized a drop step move to score on a powerful dunk another time.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He managed to score on a put back off the glass, and he also drew free throws off of a cut.  He missed on a put back in traffic, but he was generally active at scoring around the basket.  Rudan also attempted a three-point shot off of a pick and pop play, but missed that time late in the match.

Also, Rudan showed the ability to pass out of the post as well as off the dribble, and he is an unselfish player that would look to find open shooters.  He also set a solid on-ball screen to help his teammate get an open driving lane another time.  He also was able to get his fair share of rebounds on both ends of the floor, and Rudan showed a penchant for collecting offensive boards.  

Plus, Rudan defended well in this game.  He was able to rotate to alter a shot inside, and he also would play passing lanes to help force passing turnovers.  He also would contest shots both out on the perimeter and in the paint to get stops for his team.  Sometimes though, he would occasionally have trouble guarding quicker players.  On one play, he tried to get back on defense, but bit on a pump fake, which led him to be out of position, and he then committed a foul and gave up the basket on the break.

Overall, Matej Rudan is a strong, skilled big man that generally thrived at making plays in the paint to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He’s not a great athlete, which could make it considerably tougher for him to make it to or succeed in the NBA, but he has a solid feel for the game and is a low post player that could carve out a solid, lengthy playing career overseas.

Former Little Rock basketball player and BC Igokea’s 6-10 center, Nikola Maric is a mobile, energetic big man that was able to make some impressive defensive plays on the court.  Maric played satisfactory defense in this game.  He ran in from pretty far away, and he rotated to block a shot hard off of a drive to a teammate.  He also rotated aggressively out on the passer when defending on the perimeter, which enabled him to help force a passing turnover.  On the downside, he would sometimes commit fouls when contesting shots in the paint, but he did a good job of using his length, activity, and above average athletic gifts to get stops for his team.

He also rebounded very well when he was on the court, and he also was able to make a couple of passes out of the post.  On the downside, Maric struggled to make shots in this game.  He was unable to score from the post, and he had a couple of shots blocked.  Overall, Maric is a fairly athletic, energetic center that can rebound and block shots, but he will need to show that he can be a reliable scorer and offensive player when he is on the floor.  Right now, he may be a long shot to be drafted, but even if he doesn’t make it to the NBA, he could end up being a solid role player overseas.

Anyways, those are my thoughts for how Nikola Djurisic and other various prospects played in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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