Full Breakdown of Heat’s Latest Draft Pick: Nikola Jovic
“With the 27th pick in the 2022 NBA draft, the Miami Heat select: Nikola Jovic.”
That was the call from NBA commissioner Adam Silver on draft night, as speculation continued to loom on what the Heat would do. Will they trade the pick? Will they take a Kentucky prospect still on the board? Do they grab a falling EJ Liddell?
And much like most Heat draft nights, you can’t predict the next move.
Once they officially took Jovic who has played overseas for many years, it created a youtube highlights spam to find out who this young kid really is.
While most people were just getting an initial look at him, Adam Simon, who is the assistant general manager for the Heat and on the front-line of these draft selections, noted that “he’s been on our radar for a couple years.”
So, let’s not waste anymore time. Who is Nikola Jovic on the court?
The Spot-Up Jumper
When evaluating any type of talent, starting with the outside jumper always feels key. I should clarify that he’s a 6’11 stretch big with guard like skills on the offensive end, which is quite the label to kick off a late first rounders description.
He shot 36% from three this past season with Mega Basket in Serbia, while Adam Simon noted that some of the extracurricular off the dribble shooting allowed that to decline a bit.
Yet the spot-up shooting is what truly stood out with his perimeter game, and they’re very confident in. Looking at some of the clips above, he has a grounded base, decently quick trigger, and a very smooth looking jumper.
Oh and let me remind you again, this isn’t a wing shooter. He’s around 6’10, 6’11. The shooting is far from his best asset when going about his offensive game, but it definitely is quite the icing on the cake. If this type of thing carries over against quicker and lengthier bodies closing out, then it really could be something.
A PnR Eye Opener: a 6’11 Creator
Now to the good stuff, pick and roll mechanics are always addressed for bigs when entering the NBA. But that usually includes long dialogues about a guy as a roller. Not the ball-handler in those sets.
Yet for Jovic, the ratio between being the handler and roller at his size was a bit wild to say the least. He was the team’s creator for the most part in Serbia, and his pick and roll control is truly an asset.
His solid handle, which I’ll discuss in a bit, allows him to slide into certain gaps, but his high IQ passing forces defenses to eye him at all times.
In the clips above, you see a pro level pick and roll player, and that’s not an exaggeration. The control to bounce off the recovering defender that just got screened, hold the dropping big in place, and drop the ball into your big isn’t just ‘another clip in the file.’
Yet in the following clips, you see his pick and roll gravity on display, as opposing teams continue to blitz out and double him to eliminate his scoring mechanics in space. And well, there are two more dimes to the rolling big.
I’m really intrigued to see what he looks like as a roller, which will most definitely be tested in Summer League, but the primary element of his experience will be to put the ball in his hands as much as possible. Do the passing tendencies carry over? Will physicality play a factor? Will the patience shown in these clips stick?
I actually believe so. There are things that could decline a bit at first for any player drafted, but there’s a lot of confidence in his pick and roll game in space, which he will have plenty of chances to showcase.
But let me just add: the PnR stuff isn’t just passing…
That previous clip where he kept getting doubled out may have made you wonder what has led up to this. So, watch this clip above for your answer.
Back in a normal drop, Jovic gets flowing downhill to his right, uses his shoulder to create some extra space, and steps back for a tough shot right over the contest. Bucket.
The key to a good pick and roll player is this exact combination: high IQ passer and an ability to create shots for yourself against different coverages.
The recovery speed will definitely be a lot quicker at the NBA level when he generates opportunities like this, but the length he has to shoot over the top is what makes this all come together.
So, Jovic-Yurtseven Summer League pick and rolls, anybody?
Tight Handle into Tough Shot Making
Can we keep the theme of this piece to: remember this guy is 6’11 by the way? Yes, yes we will.
He’s a very tough shot maker, yet the linking element to that is his tight handle allows him to get to his spots on the floor at any time. The second clip above is the perfect example: right to left crossover in isolation to get the defender back-pedaling, plants his right foot, and steps back for maximum space to let it fly.
Jovic has a deep bag of step-backs, which that type of foot-work is usually a staple for a lot of guys coming from overseas.
But the most important thing when talking about “tough shot making:” he’s been in a ton of those scenarios. Sometimes talented offensive players breeze through a college play-style by putting up points under the radar against base coverages, yet Jovic has had so much thrown at him for a guy that’s somehow 2 days younger than me. (lol)
As Adam Simon said last night, “he has the versatility of not just being a catch and shoot guy.” He even threw in the idea of a “nasty approach” in terms of his willingness to go and attack the basket. So yeah, the tough shot making is nothing new.
Running the Open Floor
Other than the PnR control, one of the first things that stood out about Jovic was that he wasn’t afraid to run the floor. If there was a turnover, he’s gone and has one hand up for his passer to locate where he wants it thrown.
He may be a big man, but he’s pretty quick specifically once the ball is in his hands. Yet while transition is always viewed as the “first man down the floor to score,” his approach of finding numbers and feeding others on the break was a really intriguing asset.
And if you’re thinking big picture, a Jovic-Bam lineup running the floor could be fun.
I also asked Adam Simon about his transition game translating to the NBA, which he said: “I think he’ll be good in transition and I think he’s got some versatility in the half-court as well. The handle’s there.”
And to tie a bow on this topic, his control in the open floor really makes me think it could carry over to the big league’s as well.
(Side note: the word “control” is just so fitting for Jovic in every offensive category. If you want the adjective that makes him good, there it is.)
The Low Post Game
Jovic had an interview with Slam magazine very recently, where he was asked about his go-to move down 1 late in a game. He quickly responded that he’d want the ball in the mid to low post, so he can flow right into a little fadeaway jumper.
Yeah, not the normal response.
When looking at his post game in some videos, there are a lot of times where it’s mostly using his size to his advantage once he gets low enough, which is always good to see, yet not always a major factor of NBA translation.
Now the turnaround jumper stuff with solid footwork, on the other hand, is the element of NBA translation.
When comparing to what the current Heat team needs, I think back to early regular season Markieff Morris. He began killing teams in his stints with the mid-post stuff, and it was clear that Miami lacked that more than anything else at the front-court position.
Bam Adebayo has the mid-post jumper, but there’s a big drop-off from there. PJ Tucker, Caleb Martin, Dewayne Dedmon, and Omer Yurtseven all played extended front-court minutes at some point or another, but none were mid-range threats to any degree.
So this will be a pretty fun wrinkle to keep an eye on. When a guy’s favorite move is one of your team’s biggest weaknesses, I’d say that’s a pretty decent fit.
The defensive side of things doesn’t have much of a film dynamic. There just doesn’t seem to be much tape on that side of the ball for him aside from some blocks here or there, which makes this very interesting.
Jovic mentioned being “a big guard who can switch everything,” but that may be a bit of a stretch. There won’t be much expectation for him on that end, but I’m just curious if he will be a drop big or indeed switch in most scenarios.
After Pat Riley hammered home the defense point in a recent press conference, I asked him about where he thinks Jovic can develop on that end. “I think the kid’s athletic enough, quick enough, long enough to be able to play defense the way that we want.”
But much like anything, only time will tell. The Heat’s Summer League will kick off July 2nd as we get our first look at the twin towers of Jovic and Yurtseven.
I don’t know if this was the expected pick, but it’s absolutely intriguing to say the least. There’s a lot of potential sitting there, and the perfect place for it to be molded is in the Miami Heat’s developmental program.
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