Nikola Jovic

Draft Notes: Mocks, Big Men, O’Neal, Jovic, Kessler

Both John Hollinger of The Athletic and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report recently released their final mock drafts ahead of tomorrow’s 2022 NBA draft. The divergence between the two starts at the top, with Hollinger projecting Chet Holmgren to go No. 1 overall to the Magic, while Wasserman takes the more common approach with Jabari Smith going to Orlando.

Hollinger notes that Orlando’s front office has shown an affinity for length in the past, and believes Holmgren’s tantalizing rim protection skills might be too enticing to pass up. Wasserman, on the other hand, says Holmgren’s thin frame and “slower delivery when creating” make some talent evaluators slightly nervous, and Smith’s age (he’s a year younger than Holmgren) and maturity make him a safer choice, plus Smith is considered to have as much upside as anyone in the draft.

There’s considerable overlap in several spots between the two mock drafts, but perhaps not in areas one might expect. For example, both mocks have Jaden Ivey going No. 4 to Sacramento, even though the guard hasn’t worked out for or been in contact Kings, and wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the prospect of joining the team in a media session earlier this week.

As Wasserman observes, the Kings didn’t work out Davion Mitchell or Tyrese Haliburton prior to drafting them with their two most recent lottery picks, so if Ivey is the top prospect on their board, don’t be surprised if he’s selected (Haliburton was traded to Indiana in February for Domantas Sabonis).

Both Hollinger and Wasserman have Wendell Moore Jr. going No. 22 to Memphis, which is interesting because he’s ranked No. 33 on ESPN’s big board, so that’s a pretty sizeable jump up. Hollinger also hears the Grizzlies are fans of Dalen Terry, who is No. 24 on ESPN’s board. Memphis is reportedly interested in moving up in the draft, as it controls the Nos. 29 and 47 picks in addition to No. 22.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • David Aldridge of The Athletic queried college coaches, scouts and NBA executives to get their anonymous opinions on the top-rated big men in the draft, including Holmgren, whom one Western Conference executive described as a “mystery.” “You just don’t know how he and the body are going to react to the next level of stress,” the exec said. “… His skill level is awesome, but who does he guard at the next level? What does he play? Hardest-working freshman ever at Gonzaga. Work ethic and intangibles are way better than what showed up on the court.”
  • Shareef O’Neal, the son of Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal, said his father was against him leaving school early. “We kind of bump heads about this process,” Shareef said, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California Newsgroup. “He wanted me to stay in school. I wanted to better myself through this. He knows I’m working out with teams. But I’m not gonna lie, we ain’t talked about this.” Shareef isn’t ranked on ESPN’s board, so he’s considered likely to go undrafted.
  • Nikola Jovic and Walker Kessler have become the 23rd and 24th prospects to receive green room invitations, sources tell Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links). Jovic is ranked No. 27 on ESPN’s board, while Kessler is No. 23.

Draft Decisions: Dieng, Jovic, Besson, Kamagate, L. Miller, More

The players who declared as early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft have until 5:00 pm Eastern time on Monday to decide whether or not to keep their names in this year’s draft pool.

Since the NCAA’s own withdrawal deadline passed earlier this month, today’s deadline doesn’t have a real impact on most college players — if they were going to withdraw, they’ve probably done so already to avoid forgoing their remaining NCAA eligibility. However, today’s deadline is an important one for non-college prospects, including those who are playing in professional leagues in Europe and around the world.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has provided a series of updates on top international prospects who are finalizing their early entry decisions today. Let’s round them up…

(Note: The country listed for each prospect is where he has been playing, not necessarily where he’s from.)

Staying in the draft:

Dieng, the No. 12 player on ESPN’s big board, and Jovic, ESPN’s No. 24 prospect, are considered good bets to be first-round picks, so it comes as no surprise that they’ll remain in the draft. The other players in this list may not be first-rounders, but most of them have a good chance to be drafted.

Besson comes in at No. 38 on ESPN’s board, while Kamagate is No. 40. Procida is the 52nd on player on ESPN’s list, but has received “strong reviews” during the pre-draft process, according to Givony.

Samar, the No. 61 player on ESPN’s board, has also gained traction recently due to his strong workouts for teams and the fact that his NBA buyout is flexible and inexpensive, making him an appealing draft-and-stash option, Givony explains.

Santos is the No. 76 player on ESPN’s top 100.

Withdrawing from the draft:

Miller, the No. 43 prospect on ESPN’s big board for 2022, will sign with the G League Ignite, he tells Givony.

“My decision to withdraw from this year’s draft is based on what’s best for my long-term development,” Miller said. “With another year of development both on and off the court, I will put myself in an even better position for the 2023 draft. Going through the pre-draft process, I learned about what it takes to be a successful professional. Whether it’s the daily on-court work, off-court work, diet, or recovery, I have gained a much greater understanding of the habits it takes to get to the top of this field.”

Givony is bullish on Miller’s chances of boosting his draft stock for next year, tweeting that the young forward will likely be a top-20 pick in ESPN’s next 2023 mock draft.

Matkovic was the No. 60 prospect on ESPN’s board, while Ivisic was No. 63, which made them borderline candidates to be drafted. Strazel was unranked.

A total of 37 international prospects declared for the draft as early entrants and typically no more than about 10 or 15 of those players keep their names in the pool. In other words, it’s a safe bet that many more players on our list of international early entrants will withdraw by today’s deadline, even if it those decisions aren’t reported immediately.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Snyder, Nuggets, Jovic

With the Jazz seemingly ready to shake up their roster following yet another underwhelming postseason appearance, All-Star center Rudy Gobert could be made available in a trade. Tony Jones and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic assess the potential fit of Gobert on the Hawks, and what a hypothetical deal could cost Atlanta.

Jones opines that rim-rolling Hawks center Clint Capela has been a great fit with Atlanta. While he may not be at the level of Gobert as an all-around player, he is on a considerably more team-friendly contract. Kirschner notes that Gobert, a four-time All-NBA honoree and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, would be an obvious improvement at the position, and could help a defensively-challenged Hawks club upgrade on that end overall.

The duo discusses their hypothetical framework for a trade package. Multiple deals are posited that include Capela, draft compensation, and either guard Bogdan Bogdanovic or promising young forward De’Andre Hunter. On the Hawks side, Danilo Gallinari and John Collins are also considered as potential alternate trade candidates.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz head coach Quin Snyder kicked off a potential summer of upheaval for Utah when he opted to leave the club he had coached for eight seasons earlier this week. Eric Walden and Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune take a deep dive into Snyder’s departure. Snyder – who oversaw a lot of the team’s development during his tenure, including the design of their practice facility – made a list of pros and cons before ultimately deciding to depart.
  • After struggling defensively this season, the Nuggets may target players to help shore up their perimeter defense in the draft. Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports identifies seven wing prospects for Denver in the 2022 draft. Mike Singer of the Denver Post also explores five point guard prospects the Nuggets may consider as options behind current reserve point guard Monte Morris, including Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr., Overtime Elite guard Jean Montero, and Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard.
  • 6’10” wing prospect Nikola Jovic, currently with KK Mega Basket, could be available for the Nuggets when they make their selection in the 2022 draft with the No. 21 pick. After undergoing a Friday workout with Denver, the 19-year-old Serbian NBA prospect discussed the session with the Nuggets and the impact of Denver’s reigning two-time MVP, Serbian legend Nikola Jokic, per Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post. “I showed a little bit of everything,” Jovic said. “A little bit of my shot. A little bit of my passing skills. Guard skills. Low-post skills,” Jovic said. “I see myself as a guy who always knows what the coach wants me to do on the court.” Jovic also spoke about Jokic’s impact in their homeland: “For (Jokic) to be the two-time MVP, all the kids now, everybody wants to play basketball. Everyone is up late to watch him.” 

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Hunter, Jovic, Griffin, Maker

The Hawks have been identified in previous reports as a possible Rudy Gobert suitor, and multiple league sources have indicated the Jazz are interested in De’Andre Hunter, according to Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com. Hunter is extension-eligible this offseason. However, according to Moore, the Hawks have tried to steer any teams inquiring on Hunter to players like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter instead.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

Timberwolves Notes: Nuggets Rivalry, Lore, A-Rod, Lloyd, Jovic

The comments that Nuggets governor Josh Kroenke‘s made to the press last week about the Timberwolves‘ pursuit of longtime Denver executive Tim Connelly will fuel a rivalry between the two division rivals going forward, opines Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. Kroenke spoke about Minnesota coming through the “side door” to land Connelly and suggested that it was a “desperate” move.

“Ultimately when you go to a stratosphere that some clubs, you say some desperate clubs, are willing to go to, there’s a tier out there that just kind of doesn’t make sense,” Kroenke said of the Nuggets’ decision not to match Connelly’s offer from the Wolves, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

Rand notes that Denver has now decided to let its lead decision-maker walk twice in the last decade, first with Masai Ujiri, who left for the Raptors in 2013 and won a title with the team in 2019, and now with Connelly.

There’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Incoming Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore seem intent on using their money to improve the Minnesota front office, a ploy that Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune applauds. In addition to luring Connelly away from Denver, Minnesota has added Matt Lloyd and retained Sachin Gupta to the team’s decision-making brain trust.
  • The widely-respected Lloyd learned under a variety of scouting styles while with the Bulls and Magic, write Jon Krawczynski and Josh Robbins of The Athletic. He worked with Chicago from 1999-2012, and started with the Magic as an assistant GM in 2012 before becoming the team’s VP of basketball operations for the 2021/22 season.
  • 18-year-old NBA prospect Nikola Jovic, currently playing for Mega Mozzart of the ABA League, recently worked out for the Timberwolves, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). Wolfson is skeptical that the 6’10” wing will still be on the board in time for Minnesota to draft him with the No. 19 pick in the 2022 draft. He is currently listed as the No. 24 top prospect on the latest ESPN big board.

Draft Rumors: Magic, Smith, Pacers, Sharpe, Jovic, More

Echoing what ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported last month, Jeremy Woo of SI.com says the “general expectation” around the league is that Jabari Smith is the favorite to be picked first overall by the Magic in the 2022 NBA draft. Woo notes that Orlando is doing its due diligence on several prospects at the top of this year’s draft class, but his “gut feeling” is that the team will ultimately land on Smith.

Woo’s latest mock draft for SI.com includes several other interesting tidbits. Here are a few highlights:

  • Keegan Murray and Jaden Ivey are the two prospects most frequently linked to the Pacers by rival teams, though it’s unclear if either of them will still be available when Indiana picks at No. 6, Woo writes, adding that No. 6 appears to be Murray’s floor.
  • Shaedon Sharpe earned some buzz at last month’s draft combine, but “some of that excitement has turned to trepidation” since teams left Chicago, according to Woo who suggests that Sharpe’s individual workouts will go a long way toward determining how he’s regarded by lottery teams.
  • Woo has heard that Serbian wing Nikola Jovic would like to come to the NBA right away, so he won’t necessarily be a draft-and-stash pick.
  • Some people around the NBA believe the Thunder may look to package their No. 12 pick and a future pick or two to acquire a second top-10 selection, says Woo. Oklahoma City also controls the second overall pick.
  • Rival teams believe the Knicks will likely target a point guard or a big man at No. 11, per Woo, who believes it’s possible both Mark Williams and Jalen Duren will be available at that spot. TyTy Washington‘s name has also come up in Woo’s conversations as a player to watch at No. 11.Washington worked out on Monday for the Knicks and told reporters, including Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link) that he also workouts on tap with the Pelicans (No. 8), Spurs (No. 9), Wizards (No. 10), and Cavaliers (No. 14).

Southwest Notes: Wood, Rockets Workouts, Daniels, Pelicans Lottery Pick

Christian Wood is entering the final year of his contract and the Rockets need to get some value for him or extend him at a reasonable price, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who believes it would be prudent to move him if the Rockets can get a decent first-rounder for him, given that they can get a starter-level big man with their lottery pick. If they don’t extend Wood or get a strong trade offer this summer, they can still deal him at the trade deadline, Hollinger adds. Hollinger and Kelly Iko of The Athletic discuss how the Rockets’ offseason might play out.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

California Notes: Green, Wiggins, Kings, Howard

Warriors power forward Draymond Green is convinced that he has reached a new level in these playoffs, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Youngmisuk notes that, as the main defender on a Mavericks shooter in Game 2, Green limited Dallas players to 4-of-15 shooting from the floor. That stat also includes those Mavericks players going 0-of-9 from long range against Green. The Warriors currently lead the Mavericks 2-0 in their Western Conference Finals series.

“[Opposing players] had a hard time dealing with me before,” Green said of his performance in prior playoff runs, which include three titles. “[But] I’m in a space now that’s a totally different, better space. Not even close. Much, much better than I was in before.”

There’s more out of California:

  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, dealing with a sore left ankle, will suit up for this evening’s Game 3 contest against the Mavericks despite the injury, per Marc Stein (via Twitter). “It was just a little tweak, I just came down on it wrong,” Wiggins told reporters in remarks this morning, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter video link).
  • The Kings saw several top draft prospects during some recent agency pro day workouts, per Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 (KTXL) (Twitter link). Cunningham reports that LSU forward Tari Eason, Mega Soccerbet forward Nikola Jovic, Duke center Mark Williams, Milwaukee guard Patrick Baldwin Jr., and Iowa forward Keegan Murray all participated.
  • Michigan head coach and former All-Star big man Juwan Howard turned down recent interest from the Lakers to interview for the team’s vacant head coaching position, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Howard intends to remain in Ann Arbor to coach his two sons next year. Howard last interviewed for the gig in 2019, before the Lakers ultimately hired Frank Vogel.

Full List Of 2022 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 76 players who have been invited – and who are expected to attend – next week’s draft combine in Chicago. The combine workouts will take place from May 18-20.

Over the course of the week, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft likely won’t participate in scrimmages, those top prospects are still expected to attend. That group includes Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey.

A handful of standout players from the G League Elite Camp could be invited to participate in the combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 76 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link):

  1. Ochai Agbaji, G/F, Kansas (senior)
  2. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee (freshman)
  3. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (freshman)
  4. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  5. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  6. Hugo Besson, G, Australia (born 2001)
  7. Malaki Branham, G/F, Ohio State (freshman)
  8. Christian Braun, G, Kansas (junior)
  9. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor (freshman)
  10. John Butler Jr., F/C, Florida State (freshman)
  11. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (junior)
  12. Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  13. Max Christie, G, Michigan State (freshman)
  14. Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois (junior)
  15. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  16. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin (sophomore)
  17. JD Davison, G, Alabama (freshman)
  18. Moussa Diabate, F, Michigan (freshman)
  19. Ousmane Dieng, F, Australia (born 2003)
  20. Khalifa Diop, C, Spain (born 2002)
  21. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis (freshman)
  22. Tari Eason, F, LSU (sophomore)
  23. Keon Ellis, G, Alabama (senior)
  24. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  25. Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova (super-senior)
  26. AJ Griffin, F, Duke (freshman)
  27. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  28. Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers (senior)
  29. Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga (freshman)
  30. Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford (freshman)
  31. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue (sophomore)
  32. Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (junior)
  33. Nikola Jovic, F, Serbia (born 2003)
  34. Johnny Juzang, G, UCLA (junior)
  35. Ismael Kamagate, C, France (born 2001)
  36. Trevor Keels, G, Duke (freshman)
  37. Walker Kessler, F/C, Auburn (sophomore)
  38. Christian Koloko, C, Arizona (junior)
  39. Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest (junior)
  40. Justin Lewis, F, Marquette (sophomore)
  41. E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State (junior)
  42. Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona (sophomore)
  43. Matthew Mayer, F, Baylor (senior)
  44. Bryce McGowens, G, Nebraska (freshman)
  45. Leonard Miller, F, Canada (born 2003)
  46. Josh Minott, F, Memphis (freshman)
  47. Aminu Mohammed, G/F, Georgetown (freshman)
  48. Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi State (junior)
  49. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  50. Wendell Moore, F, Duke (junior)
  51. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (sophomore)
  52. Andrew Nembhard, G, Gonzaga
  53. Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt (junior)
  54. Gabriele Procida, G/F, Italy (born 2002)
  55. Orlando Robinson, F/C, Fresno State (junior)
  56. David Roddy, F, Colorado State (junior)
  57. Ryan Rollins, G, Toledo (sophomore)
  58. Dereon Seabron, G, NC State (sophomore)
  59. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  60. Jabari Smith, F, Auburn (freshman)
  61. Terquavion Smith, G, NC State (freshman)
  62. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor (freshman)
  63. Matteo Spagnolo, G, Italy (born 2003)
  64. Julian Strawther, G/F, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  65. Dalen Terry, G, Arizona (sophomore)
  66. Drew Timme, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  67. Jabari Walker, F, Colorado (sophomore)
  68. TyTy Washington Jr., G, Kentucky (freshman)
  69. Peyton Watson, G/F, UCLA (freshman)
  70. Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame (freshman)
  71. Alondes Williams, G, Wake Forest (super-senior)
  72. Jalen Williams, G, Santa Clara (junior)
  73. Jaylin Williams, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  74. Mark Williams, C, Duke (sophomore)
  75. Trevion Williams, F/C, Purdue (senior)
  76. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)

Nikola Jovic Declares For 2022 NBA Draft

Serbian forward Nikola Jovic has declared for the 2022 NBA draft, agent Misko Raznatovic tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Jovic has already submitted the paperwork necessary to enter this year’s draft pool.

At just 18 years old, Jovic is a starter for Mega Mozzart in the Adriatic League, averaging 11.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 3.3 APG in 28 minutes per contest this season, per Givony. The 6’10” forward has also debuted for the Serbian national team after leading the country to a fourth-place finish in FIBA’s Under-19 World Cup in 2021.

Although Jovic will have until June 13 to potentially remove his name from the draft, he ranks 23rd overall on ESPN’s big board of 2022 prospects, making him a probable first-round pick, so it would be a surprise if he withdraws.

According to Givony, Jovic’s combination of size, ball-handling, passing, and shot-making has attracted the interest of NBA scouts, who have likened him to NBA players like Danilo Gallinari and Deni Avdija. Mike Schmitz also raves about Jovic’s offensive potential in his scouting report, though he notes that the youngster still has some work to do on the defensive end.