Evaluating Nikola Jovic, Malcolm Cazalon, and Karlo Matkovic

January 10th, 2022

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Mega Mozzart’s 6-10 Serbian forward, Nikola Jovic play against Buducnost in an Adriatic League that was played on November 7th, with thanks to YouTube via ABA Liga j.t.d.  Jovic is a very skilled, offensive-minded player that can shoot, score, and distribute the basketball, and he has been drawing significant draft buzz right now.  Watching this game served to see what he can do in that league on a normal basis.  He played well in his team’s win over Buducnost, and here are my thoughts on how he and other various prospects fared on that day.

Mega Mozzart’s 6-10 forward, Nikola Jovic is a very skilled offensive minded player that projects to be a first round pick in the 2022 draft.
(Photo:
Ivica Veselinov/Mega Mozzart, via ABA Liga)

Nikola Jovic had a fairly solid showing in his team’s win over Buducnost.  He is a tall, agile swingman that has a variety of solid offensive skills.  He had a solid all-around performance, as he provided his team with a variety of skills to help them get the victory. Jovic did a decent job of knocking down jumpers, especially from beyond the arc.  He thrived at making smooth pull-up threes, as he would take advantage whenever he would get ample time and space to get his shot off.  He probably won’t be given nearly as much time or space at higher levels, but he is a tall, agile shooter that can comfortably knock down shots from long distances.  He also drove in and absorbed the contact to make a mid-range floater.  On the downside, he struggled more to make deep spot-up threes off the catch, but he still shot the ball well in this game.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Jovic managed to score on a crafty, turnaround layup off of a backdoor cut.  He also ran in to score on a tip-in.  Plus, he also managed to get fouled on a speedy, left-handed drive on the break in order to get to the free throw line. He also showed an adequate ability to score in the post.  Jovic was able to move towards the post to get the ball, and he managed to get the ball and score quickly off the glass that time.  On another play, he tried to back his man down, but missed on a tough, one-legged, fadeaway jumper from the baseline.  He showed a knack for drawing fouls on aggressive drives to the hoop, although it seemed like he was able to get some of those calls by flailing and exaggerating the contact to draw fouls upon his defenders.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Jovic can pass and handle the basketball, and he can throw accurate, interior passes to set up scores for his teammates down low.  He also pushed the ball quickly up the court and then threw a shovel pass to find an open shooter on the break due to possessing solid athleticism and court vision.  He even was tasked to run the point at times.  On the downside, he also was fairly turnover prone on offense.  Sometimes, he would struggle to create separation between himself and his defender when handling the basketball, which can lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.  On one play, when posting up, he had the ball ripped away from him by a help defender.  He also was called for traveling on another post-up possession.  He also will sometimes telegraph his passes, as he also had a pass intercepted another time.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Jovic was able to leap up to get a board on both ends of the floor.  Also, he played adequate defense.  He is an active help defender that can make plenty of plays on the ball.  Jovic was able to block an opponent’s put back to help his team protect the paint.  He also ran in to quickly intercept a loopy pass to get a steal.  He also jumped on a loose ball to get another, and he also applied ball pressure to force a ball-handling turnover on a separate possession.  He also stayed in front of an opposing ball handler and used his length to successfully challenge a three-point shot to force a miss.  Sometimes he would get beat off the dribble or on cuts, and he also would be late on his rotations.  Other times, he would take bad gambles when defending screens or in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Nikola Jovic is a tall, agile offensive-minded forward that can shoot, score, and distribute the basketball.  He will need to add more muscle to his frame and be a more disciplined defender in games.  Still, he is a versatile combo forward that could be a solid pick for an NBA team, and he could project to be a solid role player similar to Golden State Warriors’ forward, Nemanja Bjelica in the NBA.

Malcolm Cazalon also played well in his team’s win over Buducnost.  He is an athletic swingman that thrived as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder throughout this contest.  Cazalon did a very good job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He also showed that he can make three-pointers both off the catch and dribble.  He was able to make a quick, spot-up three on the break, and he also made a pull-up three from way out. 

Plus, he also did an adequate job of scoring off the dribble.  He was able to drive hard to his left, as he used an overhead ball fake to score, and Cazalon tended to favor going to his left to get to the hoop.  On the downside, he would sometimes be too predictable in going to his strong hand, and sometimes he would take rushed, contested shots that would lead to misses. Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Cazalon is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can throw accurate interior passes to find his teammates on the move.  Sometimes though, he would telegraph his passes, and he threw a hasty bounce pass off the dribble that got intercepted once.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active at crashing the glass on both ends of the floor, and he was able to utilize a swift, behind-the-back crossover move while pushing the ball up the court off of a defensive rebound once.  Defensively, he struggled in this game.  For the positives, he was active defensively.  However, he would tend to get beat on quick moves off the dribble and on cuts, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Malcolm Cazalon had a solid showing in this game.  He primarily thrived as a shooter and rebounder, and he is a skilled swingman that can play multiple positions.  He’ll need to continue to play well this season, and he could project to be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2022 draft.

Mega Mozzart’s 6-10 center, Karlo Matkovic played well in his team’s win over Buducnost.  He especially excelled as an inside scorer, particularly on rolls to the rim, and his ability to set screens and score off of them enabled his team to thrive on offense.  He also tended to outwork his opponents on the glass, and he also showed some shot blocking prowess in this game.

Matkovic showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He would often score on rolls and tip-ins, and he also would catch lobs after rolling to the rim to score on alley-oops afterwards.  He also was very effective as a scorer in the post, and he also was able to catch the ball on a short roll and drive from the high post to score another time.  Also, Matkovic was able to make a mid-range jumper from the baseline after rolling to get the ball, but he struggled more to make jumpers from further out.

Plus, Matkovic showcased good playmaking skills in this game.  He can pass out of the post, and he would often find cutters to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He is an unselfish player that would look to find the open man, and he did a good job of throwing accurate interior passes to get his teammates the basketball.  He also would set screens to help his teammates get open jump shots and driving lanes to help them score afterwards.  However, he can sometimes struggle to protect the basketball when pressured.  On one play, he had a ball that got poked away shortly after getting an offensive rebound to commit a turnover.

Also, he did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  Matkovic would often outwork his opponents on the offensive glass, and he would run in and leap up to score off of offensive rebounds to provide his team with numerous second chance points.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Matkovic did a great job of rotating to block shots to help his team protect the paint, and he also managed to help force a shot clock violation when swatting a shot once.  He also was able to catch a loose ball that was deflected to him to help his team get a steal, and he also deflected a pass to nearly get another.  He also was able to break up a lob pass to force another turnover.  Plus, he would rotate to contest shots in the paint to force some misses. 

Often times though, he would not effectively communicate to his teammates on how they should defend screens, as his teammates would often get caught and stuck on screens, and he would sag too far off of them.  This usually would put them in scramble situations, which would result in his team committing fouls, or allowing opponents to score on either mid-range shots or layups.  Other times, he would take bad gambles when defending in one-on-one situations, which would lead him to wind up being out of position.

Overall, Karlo Matkovic had a good showing in his team’s win over Buducnost, and he scored 26 points, and he also had 12 rebounds and 5 assists to help them get the victory.  He will need to extend his shooting range and be more comfortable in knocking down outside shots, and he will need to improve his ability to defend in screen situations.  He may be an underrated prospect, and he could be an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the mid to late second round range of the 2022 draft.

Current Mega Mozzart’s 6-7 swingman, Samson Ruzhentsev also played well, as he thrived as an offensive player and energy player in his team’s win over Buducnost.  Last year, he played sparingly at Florida in Division I college basketball.  This year, he is a speedy forward that has versatile scoring skills, and he also has shown some playmaking skills when he was on the court.

Ruzhentsev shot the ball very well in limited touches off the bench.  He drove right off of a screen in order to score on an open, pull-up jumper smoothly from the mid-range.  He also ran off of a ball screen, and made an open three quickly off of a dribble handoff.  He also was very active in crashing the offensive glass, and he was able to score on a quick put back.  Every once in a while, he’d be prone to rushing, as he also missed on a put back another time.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Ruzhentsev was able to drive very quickly on the break, and he threw an accurate lob pass to set up a scoring chance for a teammate.  He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He especially showed a knack for grabbing offensive boards.  He also managed to push the ball up the floor after leaping up to get a defensive rebound once.  Defensively though, he struggled.  On one good play, he managed to use his length to close out on a three-point shooter to force a miss.  However, he had trouble fighting through screens, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Samson Ruzhensev is an athletic, skilled offensive player that primarily thrived as a scorer and rebounder in this game.  He will need to be more aggressive in looking for his own shots on offense, and he will need to improve his defense.  Currently, he projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the 2022 draft, and he could project into a shooting specialist role similar to Toronto Raptors’ forward, Svi Mykhailiuk in the NBA.

Mega Mozzart’s 6-8, 2004-born forward, Nikola Durisic was able to have some good moments in his team’s win over Buducnost.  He was able to score on energetic plays, and he is a fairly athletic combo forward that could be a prospect to watch in the future. Durisic was active at scoring on off-ball motion plays.  He ran the floor to score on an emphatic breakaway dunk.  He also managed to score on a put back while drawing an extra free throw afterwards.  On the downside, he struggled to score off the dribble.  Sometimes he would rush his moves and take tough, off-balanced shots, which would lead to misses.  He also did not take a three-point shot, and he was unable to make any of his mid-range shots in this match.

He also was a bit turnover prone on offense.  Durisic is an unselfish player that can find teammates on the break due to possessing solid court vision.  However, he also would be prone to making careless mistakes.  He dribbled around quickly, but the ball slipped out of his hands, but he lost the ball to an opponent to commit a turnover.  He also dropped a catchable pass that led to another turnover.

Also, he was able to leap up to get his fair share of boards on both ends of the floor, and he particularly was active at crashing the offensive glass to get rebounds.  Defensively though, he struggled.  For the positives, he was able to jump on a couple of loose balls to help his team get steals.  However, he often would shade too far to his left, and he would get beat off the dribble the other way by quicker players.  He also struggled to get around screens, as he would then trail opposing ball handlers.

Overall, Nikola Durisic is a fairly athletic, energetic forward that score and grab rebounds on off-ball motion plays, but he will need to improve in the other elements of the game.  He will need to improve his jump shot and his defense, but he could be a prospect to watch in 2023.

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