With Kaleb Tarczewski finally gone, Dusan Ristic has stepped up to a more prominent role as Arizona’s starting center this season. After logging just 869 minutes in his first couple of seasons, the seven-footer born in Serbian is already up to 518 minutes in 21 appearances this year and has averaged 24.7 minutes per game.
Unfortunately for Ristic, the game is going away from old school throwback types like him – who can’t defend pick-and-rolls beyond the foul line or pick up smaller players on switches and can only substantially contribute on offense from the post but without doing so in a dominant manner.
Because of that, Draft Express does not rank Ristic in its top 100.
Ristic uses the strength in his 245-pound frame well to get deep seals against just about every center he’s faced at the college level. He doesn’t have particularly fluid footwork or a diverse set of shot fakes and relies mostly on his general size to bully his way into short range attempts.
Ristic does have good touch on turnaround hooks over the defender’s left shoulder, though. And he’s even flashed a turnaround-fadeaway jumper in the game against UCLA (hiking his leg Dirk Nowitzki-style) but for the most part hasn’t shown to have that as a real asset he can go to regularly.
Ristic has also not shown much lately in terms of being able to pass with his back to the basket, assisting on just 3.7% of Arizona’s scores when he’s been on the floor this season – according to basketball-reference.
OFFENSE AT THE RIM
He is a good screener who looks to draw contact and whose picks are tough for on-ball defenders to navigate around but doesn’t have the athletic ability needed to act as a credible scoring threat out of the pick-and-roll consistently.
Ristic can’t roll hard to the basket, can’t play above the rim as a target for lobs and needs to catch and gather himself before going up strong, even out of the dunker’s spot. He does have great touch near the basket, though, converting 79.7% of his 64 shots at the rim this season – according to hoop-math.
Ristic doesn’t have great leaping ability or play with a high motor but he is able to set inside position on the offensive glass with some regularity and has length to rebound outside of his area – collecting 10.3% of Arizona’s misses when he’s been on the floor, which is not a difference making mark but a positive contribution nonetheless.
OFFENSE AWAY FROM THE BASKET
He has flashed the ability to make standstill shots from mid-range if given space to go through his methodical release and has even nailed eight of his 14 three-point shots over the last two-and-a-half years but rarely spots up in a shooting stance and doesn’t have the sort of dynamic release that suggests he could be used in the pick-and-pop.
Ristic has also flashed some ability to facilitate offense from the elbows but Arizona does not use him that way regularly.
Just like on offense, he excels on areas where he can rely on his combination of size and strength.
Ristic is a stout post defender and tough to rebound or finish around, as he is attentive to his boxout responsibilities and has good awareness to rotate to the front of the rim and make himself a presence dribble drivers or cutters have to deal with.
But coming off the weak-side in help-defense is tougher because he doesn’t have any quickness and getting off the ground is a chore for him. Ristic can’t play above the rim as a shot blocker, picking up just 44 blocks in his 91 appearances in college. That lack of leaping ability also limits his impact on the glass. He’s collected 19.6% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor, which is a good mark but not dominant.
The biggest struggle for Ristic is defending outside the lane, though. Even in post defense, he needs to leave a cushion to face-up big men so he doesn’t get so easily beaten off the bounce and is vulnerable to having them burring jumpers in his face.
Against the ball-screen, Ristic is no option to switch or hedge high in the perimeter and needs to drop back. He actually shows some lateral mobility to contain dribble penetration when the ball handler snakes the pick-and-roll but can’t bend his knees to get down in a stance and has no shot keeping pace with dribble drivers when they get downhill.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara