Observations on Luka Samanic in an Adriatic League Game

May 11, 2019

by Alan Lu

I took the opportunity to watch Union Olimpija’s 6-10 Croatian big man, Luka Samanic play in an Adriatic League game against KK Zadar that took place on January 4th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d.  He is a skilled big man that has versatile scoring skills, and he could be a potential first round pick in the upcoming draft, so I wanted to take the time to assess his skills once again.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Luka Samanic did a very good job of scoring the basketball, as he can make shots in a variety of ways.  He really excelled at scoring off of smooth drives to the hoop, as he can use a wide array of dribble moves to get past his man, and he would tend to go left to score with his right hand.  He is an agile player that handles the ball well, and he also showed good speed, body control, and finishing ability when taking the ball to the rim.  Plus, he also runs the floor well, and he would often score on emphatic two-handed jams on fast breaks.  Also, Samanic managed to back down his man when posting up, as he used a quick spin move to score on a jump hook off the glass.

He also showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team on offense.  Samanic was able to make a deep three from well beyond the arc late in this game, but he missed on a few jump shots on other occasions.  He also tried to score on a roll to the rim another time, but he ended up missing on a contested layup as an opponent made a good defensive play on the ball.

As a playmaker, he looked to be fairly average.  Samanic did not look to pass often, but he was able to throw an outlet pass after getting a defensive rebound early in the second quarter.  He also managed to swing the ball swiftly to an open shooter in the corner to notch an assist late in the third quarter.  He will also set plenty of screens, as he can pop or roll off of them to get open on offense.  Plus, he also handles the ball well, especially for a player his size.  His lone turnover came late in this contest when he drove left to the hoop, but he ended up getting the ball poked off of him before it trickled out of bounds.  Samanic also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get numerous rebounds to help his team, as he especially excelled at hauling in defensive boards.  Plus, he also would tip balls to help his team get extra rebounds in this game.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Samanic was able to rotate to contest a three-point shot to force a miss, and he also defended in the post to indirectly force a passing turnover another time.  He will actively contest shots when he is in position to do so, but he also can be undisciplined on the defensive end, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  On one play, he over-helped in the paint, as he was late to rotate back to his man, which led his team to allow a corner three-point basket to an opponent.  On a separate possession, he was called for fouling an opponent on a high post drive as he had nudged his elbow out too far when defending his man, which led his team to allow a score and an extra free throw that time.

In general, Luka Samanic is a versatile scorer that is quite adept at knocking down shots, and it is clear that he has played much better as the season has progressed.  He is a good athlete that can make shots from the perimeter or in the post, and he also will make energetic plays to help his team on the glass as well as in transition.  He will need to improve his passing ability and position defense, but Samanic is a talented player that could end up being a mid to late first round pick, as he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA as a Kelly Olynyk type in the association.

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