5 Things We Learned About Mario Hezonja in 2015-16

By Josh Cohen
May 2, 2016

Mario Hezonja likes to run and play at a fast pace

Only Dewayne Dedmon and Evan Fournier shot higher percentages in transition than Hezonja on the Magic. In fact, nearly 16 percent of Hezonja’s shot attempts came in transition and he shot 61 percent on these plays. He is confident exploding to the basket or pulling up for an uncontested jumper. WATCH:

Mario Hezonja has the potential to be a legitimate point forward

There are very few players in NBA history who were versatile and long enough to possess a point forward label (Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu were former Magic players who had these skills). While still lacking some key fundamentals, Hezonja has a chance to evolve into a player who can be a playmaker at the small forward position. He has outstanding court vision, tough-to-guard length and enough adaptability to run an offense and be a stat sheet stuffer. WATCH:

Mario Hezonja needs to become a more consistent 3-point shooter

With perfect shooting form and plenty of confidence, Hezonja has the tools to be one of the league’s premier long distance shooters. While he had really good stretches, particularly toward the end of the season, Hezonja was a very inconsistent 3-point shooter. He needs to steadily increase his 3-point percentage as his career evolves. The hope for Hezonja is that he shoots around 40 percent from beyond the arc by the time he reaches the pinnacle of his career (shot 35 percent this season). WATCH:

Mario Hezonja needs to become a trustworthy defender

Hezonja’s minutes were limited for much of his rookie season because of his defensive limitations. But, the good news is he made steady progress on this side of the floor. In fact, opponents guarded by Hezonja shot 53 percent in November and December and 45 percent in March and April. Scott Skiles said repeatedly throughout the year that he thinks Hezonja can be a two-way threat. He has the quickness, length and toughness to be effective at both ends. WATCH:

Mario Hezonja plays unselfishly (sometimes too unselfishly)

It was clear for a big chunk of the season that Hezonja was in learning mode. He passed up open shots to keep the ball moving and he leaned on his teammates to show him the ropes. That’s not a bad thing for a rookie getting familiar with the speed of the NBA and American culture. As he earns more trust from coaches and teammates and as more responsibility stacks up on his plate, we will likely see more production from Hezonja. WATCH: