Dzanan Musa Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Dzanan Musa is the second-ranked European prospect born in 1999[1].

The six-foot-eight shooter is very experienced for someone his age, logging his first high level pro minutes a couple of years ago, when he became the ninth-youngest player in EuroLeague history to make his debut as a 16-year-old.

That season, his first with Croatian club Cedevita Zagreb, Musa was not a regular rotation player and spent some time with the junior squad as well.

Now a full time pro over the last year-and-a-half, the 18-year-old[2] is averaging 22.1 minutes per game in 41 appearances for a Cedevita team that has won 30 of its 42 games this season.

The level of competition he’s faced is mid-level. The Eurocup is the second-tier continental league, behind the EuroLeague, and Next-Step Basketball ranks the Adriatic League only the ninth domestic league in Europe, while the Croatian A-1 Liga is unranked.

He started 2017-2018 pretty hot, coming off a summer where he led the Bosnia & Herzegovina Senior National Team to five wins in eight games in the 2019 FIBA World Cup of Basketball Pre-Qualifiers – averaging 31.7 points per 40 minutes on 70.8% true-shooting[3].

Through 41 games this season, Musa has averaged 22 points per 40 minutes on 61.9% true-shooting. Though he’ll stop the offense every once in a while to run a pick-and-roll, Musa is getting most of his touches on the side of the floor via hand-offs and ball reversals, as 45.5% of his 329 shots have been three-point attempts.

Musa is for the most part a gunner because he hasn’t shown a lot of development in terms of athleticism and skill level. He has a thin 187-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-eight height[4] and struggles to get by his man one-on-one. His work in the pick-and-roll isn’t particularly advanced either.

On the other end, Musa is hidden off the ball but has flashed some potential of being able to make plays on the ball and switch onto bigger players.

[1] According to Eurospects.com

[2] DOB: 5/8/1999

[3] According to our stats’ database

[4] According to Cedevita’s official listing

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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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

Dzanan Musa Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Starting the season opener against Olympiacos in Greece as a 16-year-old, Dzanan Musa became the ninth-youngest player in Euroleague history to make his debut.

The Bosnian teenager was not a rotation player throughout his first season with Croatian club Cedevita Zagreb but earned some quality time against high profile competition here and there, including three appearances with more than 10 minutes against Euroleague opponents.

Musa ended up logging 360 minutes in the pros, while spending some time with Cedevita’s junior squad as well in the Adidas Next Generation tournament of Zagreb, where he earned All-Tournament Team honors.

After leading Bosnia & Herzegovina to a title in the European Championships U16 last summer, there was some expectation Musa could carry his team within reach of similar glory at the FIBA World Championships U17 in Zaragoza this year but things didn’t work out as well, as the Bosnians placed ninth.

Musa led the tournament in scoring, averaging a jaw-dropping 41.9 points per 40 minutes — though a closer look reveals he shot 57.4% on non-competitive games against the Dominic Republic, South Korea and Chinese Taipei but just 34.7% in three outings against stronger opponents in France, Australia and China.

PICK & ROLL SHOT CREATION

Musa’s top skill is shot creation for himself out of middle high pick-and-roll, which he got to do quite a bit running offense for the Bosnian National Team.

He is left hand dominant and strongly prefers driving to his left. Musa flashed some patience waiting for paths to the basket to clear up when opponents hedged but mostly operated as a one-speed aggressor. His first step is very effective playing downhill off a ball-screen, allowing him to get into the lane with a good deal of momentum.

Musa lacks lift elevating out of one foot to attack length protecting the front of the basket with explosiveness and body control to hang in the air and score around it, as even his touch on finishes at rim level are only so-so at this point of his development.

He has also not yet developed into a scoring threat from the in-between area, either through running floaters or stopping on a dime to pull-up from mid-range, though it’s important to contextualize that he didn’t have a lot of space to operate, as Bosnia & Herzegovina hits just 29% of its three-point shots and didn’t have a big man or a weak-side cutter who presented a threat to play above the rim as a target for lobs.

According to FIBA.com, Musa converted just 40.4% of his 42 two-point shots in the three competitive games against France, Australia and China in Zaragoza.

He proved himself an expert foul drawer, though. Musa has a well-distributed 202-pound frame in the context of his six-foot-eight height and broad shoulders that suggest he should get thicker if he continues to hit the gym. But even as he is now, Musa already uses his body extremely well to create contact of these straight line drives against his age group, earning 18.6 free throws per 40 minutes at the FIBA World Championships U17.

He is not as aggressive a dribble driver when kept from going left, often opting for rhythm pull-up jumpers from long range as the opponent overplays his left hand or goes under the ball-screen. Though he is left hand dominant, Musa jump-shoots (and takes foul shots) right handed. He is a capable shot maker when he gets to slow-dribble into this shot, even from beyond the arc. Creating most of his own looks in Zaragoza, he nailed 33.3% of his 48 three-point shots, enough for him to be considered a legit threat on such attempts, especially considering his percentage was brought down by suspect shot selection, which is expected to clean up as he matures.

Though he’s flashed appealing court vision in transition and facing the defense from the top of the key (often matched up against wing defenders shorter than him), Musa did not show to be a particularly advanced passer out of dribble penetration against a set defense. Considering how ball dominant he was in that setting, 3.7 assists per 40 minutes is an unimpressive figure and 4.2 turnover per 40 minutes is a concerning one.

OTHER AREAS OF OFFENSE

Musa wasn’t as prolific a shot creator on isolations. Without the aid of a screen, he was hit-and-miss in terms of getting by his man on straight line drives, struggling against France but doing well in the fourth quarter against China. He did, however, show some shiftiness when he got his opponent out on an island, able to dribble behind the back, between the legs or into a well-coordinated spin move in a pinch to go side-to-side and penetrate the lane via forward momentum.

Musa used his size advantage to post up semi-regularly. Sometimes he didn’t play with enough physicality to force his way into position but didn’t necessarily shy away from contact either and officials awarded him a bunch of foul shots as he fought for his spot. When he got the ball with his back to the basket, Musa didn’t showcase a wide range of moves but was willing to lower his shoulders and back his way into short-range hooks, preferring to turnaround to his left but proving able to finish with either hand.

He did very little as a weak-side guy with the Bosnian National Team but that was his primary role in his 33 appearances with Cedevita’s senior squad in the Euroleague, the Adriatic league and the Croatian league last season.

Musa has a fairly quick release off the catch but is merely a capable shot maker from three-point range with grown men closing out to him at this point of his development, nailing just 12 of his 38 such attempts – according to RealGM.

He makes quick decisions attacking closeouts off the catch but, as was the case with his drives out of pick-and-rolls and isolations, lacks explosiveness and polish to finish in a crowd at the basket, though his assist-percentage was more appealing in a limited sample.

DEFENSE

Musa logged 78 minutes in the Euroleague last season and Cedevita’s coach gave some real responsibility during those. He guarded Vassilis Spanoulis in his short five-minute stint in the season opener against Olympiacos, Malcolm Delaney and Elliot Williams – both NBA-caliber guys – in top 16 appearances on the road against Lokomotiv Kuban and Panathinaikos.

Musa put in the effort but was a below average defender, often getting stuck on screens and easily manipulated by veterans who know how to put him on their backs. He lacks length (six-foot-eight wingspan, according to Draft Express) to make plays in the passing lanes but has shown a knack for contributing on the defensive glass, averaging 6.4 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes last season.

His effort in Zaragoza wasn’t as satisfying, though. Musa often got in a soft stance, lost track of his man, closed out off balance and gave up a clean path to be attacked off the dribble. He continued to struggle navigating through screens and was hit-and-miss in terms of staying in front in isolation but was also an elite defensive rebounder for a wing against his age group as well, collecting on average 7.9 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara