Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

NBA Draft: Mario Hezonja Draft Profile

Welcome back to LWOS NBA Draft Coverage. Mario Hezonja, a small forward from FC Barcelona, has the potential to get drafted in the late lottery next month.

Welcome back to LWOS NBA Draft Coverage, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional basketball players. Each day The LWOS Basketball department will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NBA Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow us on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NBA Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2015 NBA Draft Articles click here.

Mario Hezonja – 6’8″ SF, FC Barcelona, 20 years old

Mario Hezonja has some interesting offensive capabilities, and those include the ability to get to the basket and shoot the ball. The good news for Hezonja: The NBA has never valued those two abilities more than now. With the “long two” becoming more, and more outdated, having a wing that can hit the three or blow past an unbalanced defender is at a premium. The shooting abIlity could draw extra attention to Hezonja, which would open up the lane for his teammates. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to score, though. Playing for the professional squad Barcelona in Europe, Hezonja learned how to score without the ball early, and his cutting ability should translate to the NBA.

Playing with Barcelona has also prepared Hezonja to be a solid defender. He has the frame — 6’8”, 201 lbs. — to handle small forwards in the league, but he also has the brains. There were plenty of examples in tape of Hezonja cutting off defenders using the angle provided to him, and having the intelligence to push ball-handlers into traps and strong hedges off of the pick-and-roll. He uses sly hands to deflect and pressure the man he is guarding. This is all only true if Hezonja is dialed in, though. He isn’t always engaged completely on defense, and if he is struggling on offense, his defense will struggle as well.

Hezonja’s athleticism and savvy gives him an All-Star ceiling in the NBA, especially if he is paired with a smart point guard that will take advantage of his cutting abilities. His frame and quick feet gives him a nice defensive upside as well.

The offensive versatility in Hezonja’s game will be his main strength in the NBA. The ability to shoot the ball well and get to the basket are coveted in the league today, and that will allow Hezonja to flourish for whatever team he is on. The main weakness in his game is his lack of consistency for Barcelona. He is averaging six points per game (shooting 39% from three) on 15.5 minutes per game, and while his minutes have been low, fans of the team notice his erratic play. That comes with the territory of playing with grown men at such a young age, but it can be concerning.

The best comparison to make to Hezonja’s game is Kawhi Leonard. While Hezonja might not have the same defensive game as Leonard, they have similar offensive traits that make them a nice comparison. One, both lanky players can get to the rim, or shoot the three. That said, each player gets their point production within their offense, something hard to find in today’s NBA. Leonard is also a quality cutter, much like Hezonja. Hezonja isn’t the defender Leonard is at this point, but he certainly has that potential.

Hezonja’s NBA readiness is really an unknown at the point, mostly because of his up-and-down performances for Barcelona. At this point, it’s safe to say the Croatian will start his career off the bench while trying to find a role on his respected team. Depending on where he gets drafted, or who he gets drafted by, Hezonja’s shouldn’t have to worry about carrying a team his first few years in the league. It only takes one team to see that type of potential for Hezonja, though. Any of the teams that pick between 7th and 14th seem to be in play for Hezonja. It’s doubtful that he falls out of the lottery.


More Posts

Send Us A Message