Although Slovenias roster features some decent NBA players, such as Primoz Brezec, Bostjan Nachbar and Rasho Nesterovic, we decided to go with Jaka Lakovic as the teams second star, considering that he was key piece in the Slovenians first ever qualification for World Championship. Lakovic posted 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a crucial game for 5th place, which was the last that ensured a World Championship appearance, against Croatia in last years Eurobasket.
Lakovic has played very well for Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos over the past four years, being one of most prolific scorers in the past 3 Euroleague campaigns. Last season he averaged 14.4 points and 2.5 assists in the Euroleague on a 37.5% shooting from downtown.
Jaka has moved to Spain this offseason and will play for renowned FC Barcelona. He had training camp invites from the Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons, but turned them down and decided to take the substantial guaranteed money in Europe.
The 6-1 combo guard has great touch on his very smooth jumpshot, showing great mechanics and the ability to release the ball in a blink of a eye. Lakovic is a very accurate shooter from both mid-range and long distance, while also being a capable slasher who knows how to make his way to the basket despite not a having brilliant physique. He is very adapt at drawing contact and getting to the line. His 8.1 FTs per game at last years Eurobasket was matched only by Juan Carlos Navarro, Dirk Nowitzki and Andrei Kirilenko. Once at the line, Lakovic is superb, averaging over 80% for his career.
Despite his obvious strengths, Lakovic has some quite glaring weaknesses in his game, with the first obviously being his size. While a being reasonably fast player, Lakovic doesnt really shock you with his level of athleticism. He is not much of a leaper, and his lateral quickness on the defensive end is below average for a player his size. Although he has quite good ball-handling skills and decent court vision, Lakovic is basically a shooting guard trapped in the body of a point guard. His questionable decision making and lack of craftiness and creativity when running the point has not been such a issue over the past few years thanks to playing in a system with two other lead guards at both Panathinaikos (Dimitris Diamantidis, Vassilis Spanoulis) and the National team (Sani Becirovic, Beno Udrih). Probably his biggest shortcoming is defense. Lakovic is a lousy defender who doesnt put much emphasis on this end of the floor.
Even if Jaka has more weaknesses then strengths on first glance, he remains a great scorer who can take over games when he gets hot from perimeter, as well as slash to the hoop. Slovenia has an outside shot of winning a medal in their debut at this stage, and Lakovics play will have a lot to do with final result.