Don’t blame yourself if you’re having trouble pronouncing his name. The good news is, you should have plenty of time to get it right.
The Warriors entered the 2013 NBA Draft on Thursday night without a single pick, but through some wheeling and dealing, ended up acquiring Namanja Nedovic (nay-MON-yah ned-OH-vitch), the 30th and final pick of the first round. Nedovic, a Serbian combo guard who just turned 22 years old, most recently played for Lietuvos Rytas of the Lithuanian A League, where he developed a reputation for being one of the most athletic guards in all of Europe, based on his proficiency to attack the rim and throw down some pretty impressive dunks.
Need a sample? Watch this:
Now, before you even get started, let’s admit that, sure, that posterized big man probably doesn’t have the defensive prowess of an Andrew Bogut or Festus Ezeli. And yes, the overall talent level of the Lithuanian A League is certainly not that of the NBA. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t NBA talent within it, and as the sport of basketball continues to expand throughout the world, the difference between the NBA and other foreign leagues will only get smaller and smaller. You only need to look to the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs to see the most obvious benefits of finding international diamonds in the rough. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli just took the Spurs to the brink of another championship, and Warriors fans need no reminder of just how talented and skilled they are. This isn’t to say that Nedovic will go on to have the same kind of career as those two soon-to-be Hall-of-Famers, but it just goes to show that you don’t necessarily have to come from a major collegiate program to be an impact player in this league.
So you may be asking yourself, how does Nedovic fit into the Warriors plans, both presently and down the line? As stated earlier, he’s a young combo guard with size and athleticism that could nicely complement the Warriors’ promising backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. But more importantly, it’s the things Nedovic does on the court that make him such an intriguing prospect. He does many things well, but most of all, he knows how to get to the rim. With the likes of the Splash Brothers, the Warriors are already perhaps the best perimeter shooting team in the entire league. However, those shooters are at their best when the opposing defense has to collapse on itself to cut off dribble penetration, leaving them wide open to knock down jumpers. That’s where Nedovic comes in. As the opposing team is forced to respect his driving ability and attacking burst, that should create plenty of drive-and-kick opportunities for the Dubs’ open shooters. And if the defense doesn’t collapse to stop his penetration? Well, let’s point out that he has a 41-inch vertical, and is more than familiar with what to do when he gets through the lane. Honestly, he dunks like he’s mad at the rim.
Of course, this is all conjecture. We truly don’t know what kind of NBA player Nedovic will turn out to be, as it will be up to him to prove the Warriors’ selection was worthwhile. But at the very least, he offers the upside and potential that could classify him as a major draft steal a couple years down the line. That’s a great sign for the Warriors and their fans, who unlike in most past years, now have the opportunity to go for a low-risk, high-reward player after their recent success this past season. With homegrown players like Curry and Thompson, as well as the trifecta of 2012 picks Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, the Warriors have established a pattern of finding tremendous value in the Draft these last few years. Could Nedovic be the next in line?
We don’t know yet. But we should all be excited to find out.