Observing Roko Prkacin and Lovro Gnjidic

October 17th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Roko Prkacin has been putting up solid numbers overseas, and so I wanted to take the time to watch him in another basketball game.  Therefore, I decided to watch him play in an October 15th game for Cibona against Partizan, with thanks to YouTube via ABA Liga j.t.d.  It also presented another chance to watch Lovro Gnjidic play, and it provided me an opportunity to see how well Prkacin would play against one of the best teams in Europe in Partizan.  Here are my thoughts on how Prkacin and Gnjidic fared, as well as where they may currently rate as prospects for the NBA.

Roko Prkacin is an athletic, combo forward that played well in the fourth quarter in his team’s loss to Partizan.
(Photo:
Cibona/Mihal Jacic, via ABA-Liga)

Roko Prkacin had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Partizan.  He struggled defensively for most of this game, but he turned in a much better effort overall, as he did a better job as a scorer on offense, and Prkacin especially shined in the fourth quarter of this contest.

Prkacin showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He did a very good job of scoring on cuts, tip-ins, as well as on drives in transition.  He can accelerate to score on fast break drives, and he was able to score on a floater down the stretch.  He also managed to score on an athletic tip slam.  In these situations, Prkacin used his athleticism, motor, and his ball-handling skills in the open floor to his advantage, and it often allowed him to get quick baskets. Also, Prkacin showed a better ability to knock down outside shots in this game.  He was able to make a pull up to make a wide-open three off the dribble.  He struggled to make spot-up threes off the catch, but he showed that he can make three-pointers if he is given ample time and space to get his shot off.

He also managed to draw free throws on a runner off the dribble, even though it initially appeared to get blocked.  Prkacin also managed to use a pump fake to draw a non-shooting foul when posting up once.  Another time though, he missed on a turnaround jumper when attempting to score from the block another time.  While Prkacin has struggled to score off the dribble on half-court sets at times, it’s encouraging that he’s shown that he can draw fouls when he looks to score on those types of plays.

Prkacin looked to be fairly average as a playmaker in this game.  He didn’t make many noteworthy passes, but he did throw a long interior pass to a post player from the ground to set up a scoring chance for his teammate.  He also would set screens to help his teammates get open jump shots.   Prkacin also can handle the ball in the open floor.  It seemed like he got away with setting a moving screen though, and he also had a ball poked away when handling it to nearly turn the ball over late in this match.  He also committed one turnover, as he threw a careless, casual pass to the one teammate that had not yet crossed half court, and it led to an over-and-back violation.

Also, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Prkacin would often chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he was especially active at crashing the offensive glass.  Sometimes though, he would be too aggressive, which would lead him t commit over the back fouls.  Other times, he wouldn’t go for the ball to pursue defensive boards, though that may also be because he was getting into some foul trouble early in this match.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average at best.  For the positives, Prkacin is an active help defender that can make energetic plays on the ball.  When defending a short drive, Prkacin managed to contest and alter a shot to himself to force an airball.  He also ran in to intercept a pass to get a steal another time.  He also sometimes run hard back on defense and cut off penetration from opposing ball handlers, and he’ll use his length and anticipation skills to force tough passes.  However, he had a lot of focus issues defensively, especially in the first three quarters of this match.  Often times, he would get caught ball watching as he would lose track of his man on cuts and off the ball, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also would tend to be too aggressive on close outs, which would lead him to be foul prone and to over-rotating on the defensive end.

Overall, Roko Prkacin is an athletic, versatile combo forward that can do a little bit of everything, but it may be uncertain if he has a specialty or a standout skill on either end of the floor.  Perhaps at this stage, his specialty may be his ability to score on off-ball motion plays, although he doesn’t always seem to actively look to do so in games.  Prkacin is a talented prospect that will still need to be a more consistent player in games.  Currently, he could project to go in the late first to the early second round of the 2022 draft, and he is an offensively skilled forward that could end up being a solid role player similar to Wilson Chandler in the NBA.

Cibona’s 6-6 combo guard, Lovro Gnjidic also put forth an uneven performance in his team’s double-digit loss to Partizan.  He seemed to play well in the first half, and he is an athletic ball handler that will compete hard on both ends of the floor.  In the second half, he struggled to make shots or to defend, and he took some really bad shots in late clock situations that resulted in misses.

Gnjidic did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  Early on, he scored on a strong right-handed drive to the hoop, as he made a tough, fallaway layup and drew an extra free throw afterwards.  He was unable to shoot the free throw, as he had hurt himself on the play, which briefly took him out of the game.  Gnjidic also showed a knack for drawing fouls when he would look to take the ball to the basket.  On the downside, he took some terrible shots in late clock situations, and he ended up missing on two, clunky, contested turnaround mid-range jumpers.

He also showed the ability to make plays off the ball.  Gnjidic moved off the ball and leapt up to catch a tipped pass that was thrown by a teammate, and he was able to draw free throws on a broken play that time.  Also, he was able to make a quick, open spot-up three off the catch.  On the downside, Gnjidic struggled to make spot-up threes consistently from beyond the arc.

Also, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  Gnjidic is an unselfish player that an make long passes to find teammates on the move, and he was able to pick up a couple of assists in this game.  He’ll also look to handle the basketball and bring it up the floor.  On the downside, he’s very turnover prone, and it’s uncertain if he should be tasked to handle the ball as much as he has been on his team.  He would tend to over-dribble and push the ball wildly into traffic, which would result in him getting back-tapped and balls stolen away from him by defenders.  Late in this game, he threw an inaccurate lob pass to a cutter, as he threw it far behind him, which sailed out of bounds.

He also was able to grab a pair of defensive boards to help his team get his fair share of rebounds.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Gnjidic would tenaciously fight through screens to stay with opposing ball handlers, and he will sometimes apply heavy ball pressure to try to stay in front of them.  He also rotated to contest a floater to force a miss once.  On the downside, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.  Another time, he over-helped in the paint and didn’t even rotate back to his man, which led to a teammate to rotate to foul a three-point shooter instead.

Overall, Lovro Gnjidic is an athletic, tall ball handler that may have plenty of upside as a prospect for the NBA, but he will still need to polish up his skills in the meantime.  He’ll need to be much more assertive on offense, and he has to take much better care of the basketball.  If he can show NBA teams that he can be a consistently productive offensive player and play well this season, he could firmly establish himself in the second round consideration as an Alvin Williams-type of player for the 2022 draft.

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