Nik Slavica Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Nik Slavica is the 7th-ranked European power forward born in 1997[1].
  • The six-foot-eight athletic big transferred from Cibona Zagreb to Cedevita Zagreb last summer but the move hasn’t improved his experience level.
  • Through 20 appearances this season, Slavica has logged just 209 minutes[2].
    • 147 of those minutes have come in the less competitive Croatian A-1 Liga[3], where Cedevita has won its 10 games by an average margin of 22.1 points per victory[4].
  • In his 11 appearances in the Adriatic League and the Eurocup, the 20-year-old[5] is averaging just 5.7 minutes per game, in an end-of-rotation role.
  • He injured his arm during a 47-point performance against KK Zagreb a couple of months ago and returned just this week.
  • Slavica was expected to develop into a big wing who could draw opposing big men out to the perimeter, use his athleticism to beat them off the bounce and attack the basket with power off one foot but that projection has not materialized.
    • His outside shot hasn’t developed yet and given his foul shooting percentages, it’s unclear to which extent it truly can.
  • As is, he’s becoming more effective as a catch-and-score finisher, even logging some time as a center when he’s shared the court with Damir Markota.
  • On the other end, Slavica leverages his athleticism into mobility extending pick-and-roll coverage beyond the foul line and has impressed with his rotations as the last line of defense, though he hasn’t created many events.
  • He was not ranked on ESPN’s top 100 as of December, 12th.

GOOD DEFENSE

  • He is attentive to his help defense responsibilities and has flashed some very good awareness making preventive rotations to keep the opponent from getting to the rim attacking baseline on side isolations.
  • Guarding middle pick-and-rolls, Slavica can keep pace with ball handlers attacking downhill when he is asked to show hard at the top of the key. He’s also flashed appealing lateral quickness containing the ball handler from turning the corner dropping back to prioritize interior defense.
  • Slavica is an asset to pick up smaller players on switches, as he’s comfortable defending out in space, given he was a wing at the youth level. Sometimes he hunches rather than bends his knees to get down in a stance but can slide laterally multiple times to stay attached and use his size to intimidate or effectively contest shots.

IFFY DEFENSE

  • He doesn’t seem suited to cross-match onto smaller players for entire possessions, though. Slavica works to go over ball-screens defending at the point of attack but is too big to navigate them cleanly.
  • He struggles with the most physical aspects of the game. Slavica has a 231-pound frame[6] but hasn’t developed a lot of toughness yet. He can’t hold his ground in the post and while he is attentive to his boxout responsibilities, Slavica isn’t very physical clearing the opponent out of his rebounding area.
    • He’s collected just 16.7% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season.
  • Despite his athleticism, Slavica hasn’t been very impactful challenging shots at the rim, averaging just 0.7 blocks per 40 minutes.

OFFENSE

  • His best skill at this point of his development is his passing. Assisting on 9.17% of Cedevita’s scores when he’s been in the lineup, Slavica has pretty good court vision and can act as a hub to facilitate offense in multiple ways:
    • On pre-arranged reads in high-low action;
    • Kicking out to shooters out of the short roll;
    • Scanning the floor from the low post with his back to the basket;
    • Driving-and-kicking attacking a closeout.
  • He is very fluid and coordinated putting the ball on the floor out of triple threat position and can go up strong off one foot to attack the basket with power. He can hang in the air and finish through contact as well.
  • If Slavica develops his three-point shot, he can become a truly dangerous weak-side option. Harder closeouts would open up better opportunities for him to attack the rim on catch-and-go’s off ball reversals against a scrambling defense. But right now, he shoots kind of a sling-shot and doesn’t have good touch.
    • Slavica has missed nine of his 12 three-point shots with Cedevita this season and 38 of his 44 three-point shots with Cibona last year.
    • He’s also missed nine of his 13 foul shots this season and hit just 55.9% of his 134 free throws a year ago.
  • Diving off the pick-and-roll, Slavica can elevate off two feet explosively and play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense.
    • Sometimes he cuts his rolls shorts near the foul line area to attempt floaters off jump-stops. His touch in these instances is merely so-so.
    • He’s converted 62.9% of his 89 two-point shots this season.
  • At times the most athletic big man on the floor, Slavica crashes the offensive glass and has been effective generating second chances – collecting 11.9% of Cedevita’s misses with him in the game.
  • He struggles to get deep position in the post and doesn’t have much in terms of power moves, shot fakes, head fakes and spin moves at this point of his development. But his feet are light and he gets good lift on turnaround hooks, though his touch here has plenty of room to improve as well.

[1] According to Next-Step Basketball

[2] According to Real GM

[3] Which Next-Step Basketball does not rank as one of the 10 strongest domestic leagues in the continent

[4] According to Real GM

[5] DOB: 2/7/1997

[6] According to Cedevita’s official listing

READ MORE: PJ Washington | Sacha Killeya-Jones

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

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