Roundup: All-Around Velickovic

Roundup: All-Around Velickovic
Apr 10, 2008, 02:05 am
Player of the Week: Novica Velickovic

Already a very important member of Partizan’s core, Novica Velickovic is doing nothing but improving his game level in the Euroleague quarterfinals. The Serbian forward is one of the key foundations in his team’s game, actually a pretty significant reason why the team from Belgrade is faring so impressively well this season (it’s not only about getting that far in the Euroleague, but they are dominating the Balkans as nobody has done for several years). After his 10-point, 8-rebound performance in Vitoria’s loss, Partizan tied the series following Velickovic’s 17 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists, earning in the process our Player of the Week nomination.

Velickovic is embracing to perfection the role of his team’s glue guy, doing some dirty work, being fully involved in the game flow thanks to his superb positioning, off-the-ball movement and heady passing game, while taking advantage of his opportunities to add points. Perhaps not particularly brilliant, never flashy, he’s smart and tough regardless, knowing where he needs to be on the floor in order to help his team. He can be the high post player to disrupt 2-3 zone defenses, a perimeter shooter to spread the defense, a low-post menace to open looks in the perimeter-- he won’t come up with genius plays, but everything flows better with him in the process.

3082[c]Photo: ABA League[/c]

Currently not enjoying any definitive go-to weapon to emerge as a high-octane scorer, he shows a variety of options to add points for his team, such as a decent spot-up jumper with range out to the three-point line, some low post moves and the ability to finish with both hands near the basket, or some dribbling ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket (or take the ball up-court in transition). Meanwhile, he’s also a very solid defender, both in individual or in the team setting, and a really active rebounder. A very complete guy indeed.

Anyway, it’s not highly likely that Velickovic will hear his name called in the upcoming draft. Automatically eligible, he’s a below average athlete by NBA standards, and neither particularly big for a power forward, the position for which he’s better suited and where he plays in Europe. He might be able to end up playing small forward a la Jorge Garbajosa, given his versatility and pretty decent mobility, but still NBA teams tend to look for other profiles in the draft.

A Look at… Semih Erden

Still one of the most intriguing young big men on the Old Continent, Semih Erden is turning 22 years old this summer and, even if he’s slowly making some strides, has still yet to blossom into a real force on the court. He just finished his Euroleague season averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds, in about 20 minutes per game, which is a decent improvement from last season, although barely significant on a per-minute basis.

Just an inch short of seven feet, enjoying a long wingspan, nicely athletic, well-built, Erden shows a very promising physical profile. Meanwhile, in the skill department, he shows a bit of everything, but is far from mastering any particular move, while he hasn’t erased the doubts about his character and ability to stay focused on the game.

The best thing we can say about Erden’s offensive arsenal is that he’s pretty aggressive finishing around the rim, trying to secure his points with dunks, which makes sense since his touch around the basket is a bit inconsistent. He moves around the basket waiting for a defensive rotation that leaves him open on the paint, perhaps combining it with a cut at the right time, he also emerges active setting picks to roll inside, and can nicely run the floor, showing pretty solid hands to work with and always looking to hammer the rim.


Erden also frequently asks for the ball in the low post, but the rawness of his skills here becomes quite visible. He might eventually come up with a great move, but generally speaking he shows improvable footwork and limited ability to net his jump-hooks with either hand (he uses both, although he clearly feels more confident with his right). Still, he shows a willingness to mix it up inside, and doesn’t back away from contact.

Still potentially able to develop into a power forward (although he looks like much more of a center), Erden showcases his perimeter skills very rarely. His spot-up jumper is extremely inconsistent, as he can easily net a mid-range jumper and then air-ball the next attempt. He can also put the ball on the floor and attack his match-up, which had eventually ended up in a few phenomenal highlights (he’s a pretty coordinated guy), but he never showed any continuity and it seems like it’s even a rarer feature lately.

Defensively, he’s not an outstanding player, but neither looks a big liability. He’s quite a mobile big who can defend out of the paint and challenge his match-up’s driving attempts with mild success (providing they are not very quick). Still he looks more comfortable guarding the low post, where he can rely on his length and his body. He can take contact and he doesn’t often buy into fakes, keeping his position nicely. On the other hand, he’s a rather poor team defender, as his defensive rotations are timid and not aggressive enough. He’s neither a great intimidator despite his length, although he eventually can collect a block (he’s averaged almost one per game). Besides, you can sometimes see him looking disinterested in the game, like if it’s a great deal of work for him to react to what’s happening on the court. It also happens in the offensive end, where he sometimes hangs around with apparently no defined purpose.

Anyway, given the potential Erden brings to the table, he’s virtually a lock to be drafted, but his inconsistency will likely prevent him from hitting the first round.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Hot

Omri Casspi enjoyed his best week of the season, delivering both in the Euroleague and the Israeli championship. Make strides in the rotation, he’s enjoying regular minutes in the most important games of the season. After a decent 5-point, 5-rebound performance in the first game of the Euroleague quarterfinals against F.C.Barcelona, he improved to 18 points and 10 rebounds in the second match, a loss that tied the series. Back to the domestic competition, he led Maccabi with 21 points and 7 rebounds, although he couldn’t avoid Bnei Hasharon upsetting the Israeli powerhouse at home.

Nicolas Batum boosted for a career-high 9 assists to go with 19 points as he led Le Mans to the victory over Chalon/Saone, solidifying his team’s status as the LNB leader.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Not

Romain Duport still hasn’t been able to find some consistency and continuity in his performances. He only played 7 minutes this past weekend, his scoring average has decreased from the past season, and he’s clinched double digits just twice in the whole campaign. We have been able to precisely watch those two outings, very interesting in terms of knowing what Duport can offer in his best version, but also illustrative of his biggest weaknesses.

Potentially speaking, he’s an intriguing guy, extremely long, decently athletic for his size, and nicely skilled as well. However, his lack of aggressiveness, which goes beyond his physical underdevelopment –he’s still a pretty skinny guy- limits his ability to take advantage of his size. He should be tearing up his rivals from the low post, where he shows an improved footwork and nice soft touch with his right hand –he looks a bit predictable there, though-, but instead he hangs up on the perimeter too often, settling for spot-up three pointers, which he converts with solid accuracy -37.5%-, or even eventually puts the ball on the floor with his right hand to look for a layup, but he doesn’t emerge as disruptive for opponent defenses as he can result with his low-post game. That softness is also showcased by the fact that he almost never attacks the basket dunking the ball, which should be a piece of cake for him and increase his accuracy around the rim.

The other big area of concern comes on the defensive end. Duport shows very poor lateral mobility that he’s not being able to mask with adequate positioning, becoming a liability whenever he steps out of the paint, especially guarding the pick and roll, but also resulting pretty ineffective in defensive rotations. He’s also struggling to secure the defensive rebound, as he’s often outmuscled, doesn’t show the best positioning around and could definitely improve his effort boxing-out.

Automatically eligible this year, even if his potential might draw some interest, it seems unlikely that he gets selected in the upcoming draft.

Recent articles

4.6 Points
2.6 Rebounds
0.7 Assists
13.1 PER
6.2 Points
2.9 Rebounds
0.9 Assists
12.2 PER
1.9 Points
1.4 Rebounds
0.4 Assists
3.3 PER

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop