Big Boban catches SVG’s eye and lights up Pistons locker room with his personality
Boban Marjanovic is one of those rare human beings whose entrance puts a smile on the faces of everyone in the room. Well, unless you have to play against him. The Pistons only have to do that in practice this year.
“He’s just a fun dude to be around,” Andre Drummond says, grinning widely at the mere mention of his name. “Not only is he a great player, but he’s a better person.”
You’ll find a unicorn before you’d turn up anyone who’d give you something less than a five-star rating of Marjanovic’s personality.
“He likes to be called Bobie,” Marcus Morris said, matching Drummond’s spontaneous grin. “He’s a great dude. He’s always positive. He’s a great teammate. You can talk to him about anything. He’s a really outgoing guy. For a guy that’s 7-3, you don’t expect him to be that outgoing. He’s really, really funny – just a great dude.”
Marjanovic says he already feels a connection with his teammates, too.
“They start getting used to me, I start getting used to them,” said the 28-year-old Serbian. “We’re like family. We do great job on the court, we do great out of court. Everybody hang out together and it is amazing.”
The Pistons added two players over the summer who’d make the short list of most buoyant personalities in the league in Marjanovic and Ish Smith.
“You can’t have too much of that, ever – and especially with me,” Stan Van Gundy said, aware that having a player who’ll pat teammates on the back after their head coach gives them an earful is a valuable asset. “I think that’s an important thing.”
Here’s what else is important as far as Marjanovic goes: The guy can play.
“He is unstoppable down low,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think anybody has an answer to that. Once he gets established in the half-court, there’s not a good way to play him. He’s so big and he’s so skilled that it’s hard.”
Marjanovic’s teammates have been awed by his deft shooting touch around the rim, at the foul line and even out to the 3-point line. He isn’t going to take 3-pointers as a staple of the offense, but Marjanovic shoots it well enough to pull defenders from the rim if the Pistons put him in that position.
“He’s a very efficient guy,” Van Gundy said. “He gets down, establishes low-post position, and you get him the ball … I don’t know what you do. And he’s a good rebounder, so he can be very, very effective.”
As impressed as Van Gundy and Marjanovic’s teammates are with his game, the pecking order at center remains unchanged: Andre Drummond starts, Aron Baynes backs him up, then Marjanovic.
“Yup, for right now,” Van Gundy said. “Baynes has been great. Baynes is a very, very smart guy. He’s able to go from one play to the next, make multiple efforts. His communication. He’s really a very good player and special in terms of his focus and concentration.”
He’s also a more experienced and reliable defender at this point than Marjanovic.
“He struggles defensively,” Van Gundy said. “He does a good job of getting down the floor. He always tries. He’s good with his communication, so he does some good things. But we have some really good, attacking guards and it’s tough for him.”
Marjanovic dunks by going up on his tip toes and can alter shots without jumping. He knows one way to become a better defender is to put his length to use.
“Maybe to hold my hands (up),” he said when asked what he needed to improve. “I have long arms. To hold up, not put down.”
Marjanovic can swallow shots with his massive hands. Even in the world of basketball players were XXL is standard, Marjanovic’s size gets tongues wagging. When they shake hands with Marjanovic, theirs gets lost.
“I put my hand up to him and it was like right there,” Morris said, pointing to the middle knuckle of his middle finger. “It’s crazy. He’s huuuge.”
He’s also become a huge part of the team fabric already, a guy quick with a smile and a joke.
“He’s great. Everybody loves him,” Van Gundy said. “Across the board, everybody really likes the guy. He’s just a good guy. He’s a team guy, a hard worker. He’s not an entitled type of guy at all. He’s a guy everybody likes.”
“We’ve got a fun team, man,” Drummond said. “A fun team.”