Monday, May 11, 2009

Velickovic good enough for the NBA?

Fresh off of being named the recipient of the 2009 Euroleague Rising Star award, which current Raptor Andrea Bargnani swept up in 2006 prior to being picked first in the NBA draft by the Raptors, Novica Velickovic is turning heads in Europe this year. At just 22 years old, he's the heart and soul of his club, Partizan Belgrade, and the gritty forward is quickly turning into a very well-rounded player. 

While at 6'9", some may say he's a tweener as an NBA prospect, and a sub-par athlete, you can't teach the kind of skills Velickovic possesses. He's the glue that holds a team together. He does everything well enough to help a team win. He can defend, rebound, pass, shoot, score, and most importantly, he's a leader.

When Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo talks about how much he misses Garbajosa, one has to wonder if he even realizes that a player who's every bit like a young Jorge Garbajosa is currently mopping the floor with the competition in the Balkans. One has to wonder why a player like Jason Kapono is currently making nearly $6 million  a year, while someone like Velickovic ended up undrafted this past June. If we're comparing athletic ability, Velickovic is actually superior. He's the better passer, defender, creator, finisher, and scorer, and five years younger to boot. He's great off the ball, smart in crucial moments, and like Jorge Garbajosa, he enhances the performance of everyone around him. 

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