Jovic a Match for Memphis?


Serbian prospect Nikola Jovic has the potential to be one of the steals of this draft.

Expected to go somewhere in the first round between picks 20-30, Jovic shows long-term promise for teams with patience. Not only does his frame and pure talent project well, Jovic’s versatility puts him a tier above many players in the draft. With Kyle Anderson potentially signing elsewhere, should the Grizzlies take a shot on the top-rated international player?

What He Does Best

Scouts have raved about on Jovic’s versatility as a true point forward. He measures at 6’10″ with about a seven-foot wingspan, yet he moves like a guard. Comparing him to fellow upside swing Josh Minott, Jovic is close to the antithesis of his athletic play style. He’s a pure scorer that gets buckets in many different ways.

At only 19 years old, Jovic put up good stats in the Adriatic League, averaging 11/4/3 on 43/35/75 shooting splits. His shooting efficiency can be improved and will need time, but his fluid stroke and near-perfect shooting mechanics show that the improvement can be easily made.

And as Grizz fans know all too well, you can always use more quality shooters.

Jovic also has the ball-handling skills needed to step into that point forward role in the NBA. As the draft process has gone on, he’s drawn comparisons to Danilo Gallinari and players of that type. To really push the comparison envelope…there is a little bit of Luka Doncic to his game.

Now before we get all crazy, no one is saying he’s the next Luka.

Not yet.

When you think about it, though, there are some glaring similarities between the two. Obviously, the big one is that they both played overseas before coming to the NBA. But if you analyze his game, Jovic flashes a similar shot creation ability to Luka.

Also like Doncic, Jovic is not overly athletic or explosive, so he isn’t impressive on the defensive end.

But are you really looking at that when analyzing a player like Jovic?

His potential upside alone is more than enough to warrant a lottery pick, not just a first-round selection. Not only is he a consistent scorer, Jovic also excels at running an offense. He runs the floor well, can initiate the fast break AND can slow the game down in the half court.

Potential Issues

While Jovic seems to be the complete package for either a rebuilding team or a reloading team, there are some possible drawbacks in taking the 19-year-old.

With regards to the aforementioned defending, Jovic can still decently guard 1-5. Despite his height and length, though, he won’t be much of a rim protector or an elite perimeter defender. Anything that he cannot do on the defensive end can be improved, however. If he can become just a passible defender, his offensive skills will make up for his defensive downside.

So how does he gel with this team?

So much of why the Grizzlies have been as successful as they have is because the players genuinely like being around each other. Would the same be said for Jovic? Or would his competitiveness and will to win be something that wins everyone over?

Does He Fit?

Skill wise, Jovic would absolutely fit in Memphis. He could be an effective third or fourth option and contribute in many different areas– something the Grizzlies need.

But the locker-room fit is one of Memphis’ greatest assets. As an expected contributor — unlike Santi Aldama his rookie year — the lack of culture fit pushes him too far down the list and makes it difficult to see him landing in Memphis.

Will the skill set win out? Or will the fit just not work? Only Zach Kleiman and the Memphis front office know. The rest of us will have to settle for knowing on draft night.

About Ian Sparks

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