All eyes were on the next big European phenom Dragan Bender but Marko Arapovic was perhaps equally as impressive on Croatia’s third-place finish in the 2014 FIBA European championships U18 in Turkey, which finished on Sunday. The six-foot-nine, 220-pound big man looked like the bruising type at first sight but showed a lot more versatility to his game than his physical profile suggested.
He mostly operated from the interior but proved himself capable of extending to the perimeter. Arapovic is a capable jump-shooter, particularly comfortable from the elbow area but also showed deep range. He shot 44% on 50 two-point jump-shots and hit seven of 19 three-point attempts in the tournament. He got good elevation for his size but has room to improve the consistency in his shooting motion, as he didn’t always keep the off-hand pointed up in his follow through. It’s something that should come with practice over time, since Arapovic hit 38 of his 45 foul shots. Free throw shooting is usually an indicator for potential in jump-shot development.
He was able to put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts but his first step was merely average even against this age group and he struggled passing out of dribble penetration, averaging 2.6 turnovers per 28 minutes with two thirds of them classified as bad passes on the play-by-play data. Arapovic also flashed some quality face up passing, both from the perimeter and when he opted to turn his front to the defender in the post, averaging three assists per 28 minutes, which is well above average among position peers.
But he still did most of his work from the post and as a catch-and-score option out of the pick-and-roll and putbacks. Arapovic has a strong frame for this level of competition and was able to establish deep position in the post, where he flashed a very promising turnaround hook shot over his right shoulder. He proved himself a good screener who looked to draw contact, able to catch the ball on the move and strong enough to finish through contact at this level. Arapovic finished his 88 two-point attempts at a 53.4% clip and grabbed 2.7 offensive rebounds per 28 minutes, which put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses and resulted in 3.8 fouls drawn per 28 minutes.
Croatia defended the pick-and-roll by having its big men showing-and-recovering and Arapovic shuffled his feet laterally quite impressively. When forced to guard in the perimeter, he showed the ability to contain dribble penetration through contact but is not really suited to guard in space. He made his rotations in time off the weak side but is unable to play above the rim at this point, blocking just four shots in 223 minutes on the court. And despite his frame, he was moved on the post, even by a skinnier type such as Yankuba Sima. Arapovic was a force on the glass, though, ranking in the top 10 in the defensive rebounds, controlling 6.2 per 28 minutes.
Editor’s Note: Statistical data for this post was researched at FIBAEurope.com.
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.