Observing Malcolm Cazalon, Aleksander Balcerowski, and Nikola Jovic

October 14th, 2021

By Alan Lu

I managed to watch an Adriatic League basketball game that was played on October 4th between Cibona and Mega Bemax, because it featured some of the best international prospects for the 2022 draft in Roko Prkacin, Malcolm Cazalon, and Nikola Jovic.  Prkacin is an athletic, skilled 6-9 forward that briefly entered the 2021 draft before withdrawing, and he is a versatile scorer that could be a first round pick in 2022.  Nikola Jovic is a skilled, 6-10 forward that can shoot and pass the basketball, and Malcolm Cazalon is an athletic, 6-6 guard that also has solid offensive skills.  With thanks to YouTube via ABA Liga j.t.d., I was able to see this game.  Here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as where they may stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Mega Bemax’s Malcolm Cazalon excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator in his team’s overtime loss to Cibona in this game.
(Photo:
Mega Bemax/Dragana Stjepanovic, via ABA-Liga)

Mega Bemax’s 6-6 guard, Malcolm Cazalon had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Cibona.  He excelled as a shooter and facilitator on the court, and he played well offensively in this game.  He struggled more on the defensive end, but he consistently played well in this match. Cazalon did a good job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He especially showed a knack for making open, quick corner threes off the catch.  He struggled more to score on pull-up jumpers, but he was very effective at making long-range jumpers in spot-up situations.  Also, Cazalon did an adequate job of scoring off the dribble.  He would also draw free throws when he would drive the ball to the basket.  Cazalon also looked to post up once, and he used a spin move, but missed on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper.

He also displayed good playmaking skills in this game.  Cazalon did a great job of dribbling off screens and throwing accurate lobs to set up scores to roll men.  He is an unselfish player that would throw timely interior passes, and he also did a good job of consistently finding the open man.  On one drive, he threw a behind-the-back pass to a cutter due to possessing good court vision.  On one play though, he threw a hard pass off of a drive that was dropped out of bounds, as he threw it too hard that time.  He also carelessly dribbled up the court off an inbounds play as the in-bounder without passing the ball in, which led him to commit the turnover as a result of making a mental mistake on that occasion.

He also was able to leap up to get a pair of defensive rebounds to get his fair share of boards in this game.  Defensively though, Cazalon struggled in this match.  For the positives, he was able to pounce on a loose ball that was poked away to help his team get a steal.  He also rotated to contest a floater to force a miss.  On the other hand, he would sometimes get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also bit on a pump fake once, as he ended up fouling a three-point shooter.

Overall, Malcolm Cazalon played well, and he is an athletic, skilled swingman that excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator in this game.  He’ll need to keep playing well this season, but he is a talented prospect that could end up going in the late first to the second round range in the 2022 draft.

Mega Bemax’s 7-1 center, Aleksander “Olek” Balcerowski had a solid showing in his team’s overtime loss to Cibona.  He excelled as a low post scorer and finisher around the basket, and while he struggled defensively, he did a good job of scoring the basketball in this game. Balcerowski did a great job of scoring on hustle plays.  He would often catch lob passes off of rolls to score, mostly on strong alley-oop dunks, and Balcerowski also scored on a powerful jam off of a roll another time.  He also showed a decent ability to score in the post.  He would score on turnaround jump hooks, and he also managed to score on a crafty, sweep-around layup.  Sometimes, he would struggle to get position and rush his shots, which would lead to awkward misses on occasion.

He also looked to be about average at best as a playmaker in this game.  He didn’t seem to make any noteworthy passes, and there were times where he seemed to get away with traveling, as his ball-handling looked quite suspect in this match at times.  He did commit one turnover, as he dropped a pass out of bounds.  He also was able to chase down a couple of balls to help his team get defensive rebounds, and he sprinted to grab one early on due to making a good hustle play that time.

Defensively, Balcerowski struggled in this match.  For the positives, he was able to run back on defense to intercept a pass to get a steal.  He also would contest shots in the paint to force misses, and he also deflected a pass away another time.  Sometimes though, he would sag too far off of shooters, especially on switches, and he would also be late on his rotations, which would allow opponents to score on jumpers.  Other times, he would close out too hard and over-rotate, and he also would fail to cut off penetration when defending drives on other possessions.

Overall, Aleksander Balcerowski played fairly well, and he is a mobile, physical center that excelled as an inside scorer in this game.  He’ll still need to extend his shooting range and improve his ability to defend in space, but his size and inside scoring skills could make him a candidate to go in the late second round of the 2022 draft.

Mega Bemax’s 6-10 forward, Nikola Jovic had his ups and downs in his team’s overtime loss to Cibona.  He didn’t have a big impact on this game overall and made a litany of defensive miscues, but he did throw down a ferocious dunk early on and passed the ball well to show off his offensive potential. Jovic excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Early on, he managed to score on a thunderous dunk off of a baseline cut.  He also drew a foul on a right-handed drive after nearly losing the ball on a bump another time.  On the downside, he didn’t shoot well from the outside, and he also didn’t shoot the ball very much in general.  He took a quick spot-up three once, but he missed on his lone three-point attempt from beyond the arc.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Jovic was able to drive to the hoop and make a nice dump-off pass to set up a score for a teammate due to possessing good court vision.  He generally passed the ball well, and he also showed that he can handle the basketball, especially for a player his size.  While he didn’t take many shots, he did not turn the ball over in this game.

He didn’t grab many rebounds, but Jovic was able to leap up to get a defensive rebound once.  Jovic also really struggled defensively in this game, and he ended up fouling out.  On one good play, he was able to poke a ball away to nearly get a steal once.  However, he consistently would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also would get called for hand-checking and would also commit reach-in fouls, as he generally struggled to stay in front of his opponents on the defensive end.

Overall, Nikola Jovic is a talented prospect that has promising offensive skills, and he threw down a big-time dunk early on in this game.  However, that turned out to be his only made basket of this game, as he didn’t shoot the ball very much at all, and while he showed some solid playmaking skills, he didn’t defend well in his team’s loss to Cibona.  He’ll need to play better and bounce back from this, but he is an athletic, skilled swingman that currently projects to go in the late first to the second round range in the 2022 draft.

Cibona’s 6-9 forward, Roko Prkacin got off to a hot start by scoring 24 points on 11 of 12 shooting in a September 24th win over Mornar earlier this season, but he’s struggled to consistently shoot well since, as defenders have crowded him more and more.  He did not play very well in his team’s win to Mega Bemax, as he really struggled to make shots or to defend, but he was able to make a timely three in overtime.

He didn’t shoot the ball well, but he was able to use a jab step to make a corner three off the catch.  Prkacin also managed to score on a right-handed drive to the hoop.  He also caught a lob pass off of a backdoor cut to draw free throws.  On the downside, he struggled to make spot-up jumpers, or to score when attacking the basket off the dribble or on hustle plays in this game.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Prkacin will sometimes make the extra pass, and he was able to throw an accurate entry pass to set up a score for a teammate late in this contest.  He also handles the ball fairly well, especially for a player his size.  Sometimes though, he can struggle to handle the ball when facing heavy pressure. He nearly lost the ball once when posting up once before passing out to a shooter.  Another time, he used a pump fake on a drive, but was called for traveling that time.

Also, Prkacin showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  He was quite active at chasing balls down to get boards, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he was active at contesting shots in the paint and mid-range jumpers to force misses, and he would show good length and positioning when he makes an active effort to close out on shooters.  When defending in the post another time, he poked a ball away out of bounds to nearly force a turnover.  On the downside, he tends to over-rotate on drives, as he will leave shooters open and sag too far off of them, which would often lead him to allow opponents to score on open three-pointers.  He did a poor job of guarding shooters, and sometimes he wouldn’t actively close out or contest shots in this game.

Overall, this was a very disappointing game from Roko Prkacin, and it was baffling that he played so poorly in his team’s overtime win over Mega Bemax.  He flashed some of his versatility and athleticism every once in a while, but he took too many wild, rushed shots, and had too many lapses defensively in this match.  He’s a skilled enough player to bounce back though, and he likely would still project to go in the late first to the second round range in the 2022 draft in the meantime.

Mega Bemax’s 6-10 center, Karlo Matkovic played fairly well in his team’s loss to Cibona.  He excelled as an inside scorer, and he also was an active interior defender in this game. Matkovic did a good job of scoring in the post.  He has good footwork and shooting touch down low, and he was able to use a quick spin move to score on a crafty, stepthrough move.  He also used a pump fake to score on a left-handed jump hook.  He also showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders as well.

He also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He caught a lob pass off of a roll to score while drawing an extra free throw afterwards.  He was able to get the ball on a cut, and drove in to draw free throws on a thunderous dunk attempt.  Matkovic also scored on a tip-in another time.  Sometimes though, he would miss shots from close range due to rushing. He was able to use a pump fake to make an open mid-range jumper. 

On the downside, Matkovic struggled to make mid-range shots consistently, and he also missed on a right-handed drive another time. He also was quite turnover prone on offense.  Matkovic managed to find a cutter to notch an assist.  However, he tended to set moving screens, which would lead him to commit offensive fouls and turnovers.  He also dropped a hard pass out of bounds that led to another team turnover.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Matkovic leapt up to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he did a good job of rotating to block shots in the paint to his teammates.  He would contest shots in the paint to force misses, and he also was able to challenge a three-point shot to get a stop another time.  On the downside, he would tend to sag too far on switches, and sometimes he wouldn’t even contest the shots, which would often lead him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  He also tended to get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Karlo Matkovic had a satisfactory showing in this game, and he is an athletic, strong big man that generally excelled as an interior player against Cibona.  He’ll need to improve his screen-setting skills and on-ball defense, and he’ll need to continue to work on his outside shot.  Right now, he is a borderline second round candidate for the 2022 draft, and if he continues to improve, he could end up being an effective rotational big man in the NBA someday.

Cibona’s 6-6 guard, Lovro Gnjidic had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Mega Bemax.  He is a tall, athletic ball handler that can run the point.  He didn’t take many shots in this game, but he was very efficient as a scorer on offense.  On the downside, he also was quite turnover and foul prone in this game. Gnjidic did a good job of scoring off the dribble in this game.  He didn’t shoot often, but he was very effective when he would.  He drove left off of a screen, used a hesitation move to quickly change directions, and he then drove right off of a screen to score on a crafty layup.  He also was able to make a step-back, long two-point shot.  He also used a pump fake to draw three free throws on a three-point shot another time.

On the downside, Gnjidic was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, he is an athletic ball handler that can throw solid passes off the dribble, and he can find teammates on the move to set up scoring chances for them.  However, he also tended to throw inaccurate passes, as a couple of them went out of bounds, and another was intercepted.  Sometimes he will try to be too fancy with his passes, and he will sometimes over-dribble into traffic.

Also, Gnjidic did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often chase down balls to get boards in this game, and he also was able to push the ball up the floor once.  Defensively, he struggled in this game, and he ended up fouling out.  For the positives, Gnjidic is an active defender that will look to make plays on the ball.  When defending in the post, he managed to swipe a ball away to get a steal.  He also contested a three to force a miss.  On the downside, he doesn’t always move his feet well on defense, and he would tend to commit reach-in fouls due to over-aggressiveness.  He also got outmuscled when defending in the post after initially misplaying the ball, and he ended up allowing a score down low.

Overall, Lovro Gnjidic didn’t have his best game, but he is an athletic, tall ball handler that can facilitate and make high-energy plays on both ends of the floor.  He’ll need to improve his jump shot and be less mistake prone in games, but he could be an interesting prospect to keep tabs on in the future.

Mega Bemax’s 6-9 forward, Matej Rudan had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Cibona.  He is a very good shooter that can score the basketball.  Rudan did a great job of making open, spot-up threes off the catch.  He also did a decent job of scoring in the post.  He is a strong player that can get deep position down low, which would enable him to draw plenty of free throws upon his defenders.  He also managed to score on a put back once.

He didn’t grab many rebounds, but Rudan was able to get an offensive rebound once.  Defensively, he struggled though.  He would sometimes be too aggressive on close outs, and other times he would give up too much space to shooters.  Overall, Rudan played fairly well in this game.  He’s not a great athlete, but he shot the ball well, and his size and shooting skills could allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.

Mega Bemax’s 6-8 forward, Nikola Durisic didn’t play much, but he showed some offensive skills in the brief time he was on the floor.  He used a pump fake to score on an open, corner three.  He also was able to make a drive and kick pass.  However, he struggled more to make plays off the dribble.  Durisic had a shot blocked on a drive to the hoop.  He also drove in and but threw a crosscourt pass that got intercepted.  Defensively, he struggled to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead his team to allow scores.

Overall, Durisic didn’t get much playing time, but the 2004-born forward showed some shooting skills in his team’s loss to Cibona.  He may not be the most athletic player, but he is an agile shooting swingman that could be a prospect to watch in the 2023 draft. In conclusion, Malcolm Cazalon and 7-1 center Aleksander Balcerowski were the standouts in this game, as both of them shined by continually making solid plays on offense to help Mega Bemax get the overtime win over Cibona.  Unfortunately, neither Roko Prkacin nor Nikola Jovic played very well, as Prkacin shot the ball poorly, and made a number of miscues, and Jovic also fouled out.  On the plus side, Jovic was able to throw down a thunderous dunk in this game.  It was interesting to see how the players fared in this match, and there will be more games to come later on this season.

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