Drafted by: Philadelphia 76ers, 52nd pick overall
Height/Weight: 6'6", 202 lbs
Age: 20 years old
Projected NBA Position: Point Guard
Pro Comparison: Jose Calderon/Greivis Vasquez
As one of the best pure point guards in Europe, Serbian playmaker Vasilije Micic earned NBA draft interest by utilizing his size and deft passing skills.
Running the show for Mega Vizura of the Adriatic League, the 20-year-old floor general showed his magnificent court vision en route to 5.8 assists per game. While he doesn't have the explosive speed or spell-binding acrobatics of most NBA players, he still finds ways to maneuver and make plays.
Even though he's still young, it's clear that his role in the Association will be one of a table-setter. He possesses a great feel for the game, and he has experience playing for Serbia's national team against high-level competition.
He may not look like much more than a backup, but dismissing him as a common reserve is a disservice to his value and game-to-game impact.
|Statistics at Mega Vizura|
Micic's most valuable physical attribute is his height. At the 2014 Eurocamp, he measured 6'4.75" without shoes and 6'5.75" with shoes, per DraftExpress. Factor in his 6'7" wingspan and 8'6" standing reach, and he should have no problem seeing over defenders and delivering passes from the point.
It's a good thing Micic has some size, because he's not going to shine athletically in the NBA. He'll show average foot speed in the backcourt and below-average leaping ability in the open floor.
This lack of explosion will prevent him from creating a ton of separation off the dribble. But more critically, his mediocre lateral quickness will pose some problems for him on the defensive side. Micic will have to rely heavily on footwork and skills to gain an edge.
Court Vision and Passing Touch
There's no point guard in this draft class with better vision and pure passing skills. Micic averaged 7.5 assists per 40 minutes in the Adriatic League in 2013-14, which few (if any) collegiate point guards could have pulled off.
He sees the floor extremely well and has an amazing sense of timing for when to hit his teammates. With patience and accuracy, he's able to put the ball in the hands of teammates in perfect position to score.
Micic is able to employ these point guard skills in a variety of situations.
He's extremely good at using his ball-handling skills and hesitations to get in the lane, where he can fire the rock out to shooters or hit weak-side cutters. Micic can go deep into the paint, force the help defense to commit and drop the ball off to bigs waiting to dunk. He's also crafty in transition, where he finds athletes leaking out or shooters in the secondary break.
Most imporantly, Micic's handle and passing are brilliant in the pick-and-roll, which deserves its own sub-section...
Dubbed a "Pick-and-Roll Maestro" by ESPN international hoops guru Fran Fraschilla, Micic operates with an elite finesse off screens.
Whether it's a hand-off pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop or traditional sequence, Serbia's quarterback knows how to manipulate the situation and turn it into points.
Micic's defender doesn't know if or when he will use the screen; once he uses it, he drops off crisp bounce passes through the pocket or lofts precision lobs over the crowd. Sometimes it requires a little patience and some misdirection pump-fakes, but he eventually connects with the screener rolling to the tin.
Armed with more athletic teammates in the NBA, Micic is going to love running the pick-and-roll.
Energy and Leadership
Micic is much more than just a talented passer. He puts full effort into every aspect of his game.
That means he shoots the ball confidently, drives aggressively for scoop shots, plays active defense and is an alert player on both ends of the floor.
In addition, his point guard skills are enhanced by his communication and leadership, as he's a great teammate who's always trying to help the ship sail smoother.
Basically, his club should be glad it landed the ideal contributor and hard-working, unselfish player.
Every game is going to be an athletic challenge for Micic, because he doesn't have that extra gear or bouncy springs.
The more explosive guards in the league will regularly beat him off the bounce, and he won't have much success contesting attackers at the rim, despite his size. His average foot speed will also limit his chances to create in isolation or slash all the way to the hoop.
Micic needs to work on his mid-range creativity, as he didn't show much of an in-between game in Europe. He'll have to rely on hesitations and deception in order to find daylight.
Lastly, his perimeter shooting must become more efficient. He shot just 29 percent from three-point land in 2013-14, but he'll likely improve because his form is solid.
Micic's basketball IQ and passing skills will make him a viable contributor right away. He'll comfortably read the defense and operate fluidly in the pick-and-roll during his first couple years in the league.
However, he will have to adjust to the speed of the NBA, so he might not put up the most efficient numbers as a shooter or passer.
Depending on future lineup circumstances, Micic could certainly grow into a primary ball-handler, much like a Greivis Vasquez or Jose Calderon.
As he becomes acclimated to NBA athletes and the league's style of play, he'll become more masterful as a floor general. Also, it's inevitable that his shooting numbers will improve, so he'll keep defenses honest and remain a legitimate offensive weapon.
There's so much talk about "athletic upside" and "potential versatility" around draft time, and we often forget that smart, crafty players can evolve and improve too. Micic's long-term impact won't look much different than his early exploits on the surface, but you can bet he'll learn and control the nuances of the game better than most point guards.