Besides showing some flashes of his great potential, this season has been pretty average so far. Right now he's a small forward who barely produces outside of the paint. His shooting is still a ways away, and he rarely gambles with penetrations. The best we can say about his current game is that he isn't a defensive liability for his team.
He's averaging 5.9 points and 3 rebounds in the Adriatic League, while not even reaching 5 points and 3 rebounds in the ULEB Cup. That's really a very poor production for a player who is expecting to be at least a lottery pick. And while the draft has a lot to do with potential, we think NBA teams will be more careful than ever with international players, especially 7 foot small forwards, who don't have much of a track record with success historically in the NBA.
The risk of picking such a young and unproven player as Nemanja increases considerably considering that he doesn't seem to be a kid with such a strong character, or a great fire for the game. Throwing him in the NBA at his current stage of development would put his chances of fulfilling his potential in serious danger. Right now he's several years away from being able to contribute at the NBA level.
It can't come as a surprise, though. What seemed to be a once in a lifetime prospect a year and a half ago, already slowed down his progression considerabily last season. Taking into account what we saw this last summer at the European Junior Championships, this is the logical outcome, as much as we could have hoped a sudden blossoming once he started playing with the big men. After all, he's only 17 years old, and the expectations are way too high.
Anyway, it's a difficult decision that has been debated heavily here at DraftExpress.com. There's been a lot of hype around him since his MVP performance in the European Cadet Championships in the summer of 2003. His agent has been really aggressive draft-wise, menacing the NBA in case an age limit was established and therefore making the kid declare so early as a pre-emptive measure.
Of course somebody will take a chance on him if he keeps his name in the draft, but we think it will be low enough to make him, and especially his agent, seriously consider the possibility of pulling out and trying again the following year, when Nemanja will hopefully be more mature and experienced, and the risk for the pros lower.