Barcelona’s young prodigy Mario Hezonja has shown bundles of confidence on the court, and it seems he has masses of buoyancy off it too.
The 20-year-old Croatian forward is a predicted top ten pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but Hezonja has raised the bar higher than an ordinary top ten pick, a slot that most youngsters would feel extremely proud of.
“I should be the first pick at the NBA draft,” Hezonja said in an interview to Sportske Novosti, which was translated on to Twitter.
But to add more shine to this, in the same interview, the Barcelona high-flyer claims that he attempted all three of Zach LaVine’s dunks that won him this year’s NBA All-Star dunk contest and he completed them with no problems.
While high-flying dunks are the exciting part of any basketball fan’s experience, as a player, it’s a mere bonus. There are more important skills needed other than being able to dunk.
But predicting yourself as a top pick is a great motivational tactic for Hezonja to shoot for.
Realistically, the chances of him being the number one choice is incredibly slim with Kentucky’s Karl Anthony-Towns, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell near shoe-ins for the top three spots, but the Croatian, so far predicted to go with the eighth pick to Denver should be aiming for around that mark.
Hezonja averages 8 points in the Euroleague with the chance of that rising due to Barcelona advancing to the quarter-final playoffs. Unfortunately, his averages around the statsheet are low but the talent is there.
WOULD HEZONJA STAY IN EUROPE?
It would be a wise move if Hezonja extended his time in the Euroleague after the 2015 NBA Draft. At 20, another year or maybe two years should ready him for the NBA.
Right now, there are aspects of Hezonja’s game that need work. This season, he has learned to play in snyc with his team-mates, with is something he lacked when playing for the Barcelona junior set-up but his movement off the ball needs improving.
The Croatian can run the transition game to devestating effect but in the half-court, he lacks awareness and looks lost. That is something that he will grow into as the seasons go by.
Another of the Croatian’s strengths is that he is a confident shooter, whether it be open or with a defender plus he is dangerous at the rim but can defensively be caught by more experienced shooting guards or small forwards.
Hezonja’s claims of a top pick may show great confidence both in his attitude and ability, but he still needs time.