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Around the World: Nikola Đurišić
It's time for a global adventure to take a look at some of the international prospects for the 2023 NBA Draft class
During the “rookie season” for No Ceilings, I had the desire to tackle the international grind. After spending a year overseas and getting a feel for the global hoop sensation, I suddenly have a soft spot in my soul for international hoops.
Last year, I introduced the “Foreign Relations” segment. This year, it felt appropriate to tinker with the title. The reinvented “Around the World” segments have officially gotten underway. I will also be throwing these segments on our YouTube channel with in-depth breakdowns, so don’t forget to subscribe over there.
“Like Jordan wearin’ the 4-5,” it feels good to be back on the writing grind, No Ceilings family.
Let’s get rocking.
Serbian guard Nikola Đurišić has become the latest product of Mega Basket. Listed at 6’8”, Đurišić will grab your curiosity and immediately throw it for a dime to his teammate. There’s some advanced feel to his game—the type of feel that won’t simply come up when you find yourself box score chasing.
Originally born in Ghent, Belgium, Đurišić moved to Belgrade, Serbia when he was eight years old. He would start to generate some buzz with his play during the 2020-21 Euroleague basketball Next Generation Tournament. During that tournament, Đurišić averaged 16.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. He would be named as an All-Tournament Team selection.
There are some fascinating tools to evaluate when you find yourself down the rabbit hole of Nikola Đurišić film. On paper, he has the size of a potential NBA wing at 6’8” and 214 pounds. But Đurišić plays the game as a savvy playmaking combo guard. His game is much older than his age, as Đurišić won’t turn 19 until February.
If you find yourself trying to get the idea of Đurišić as a prospect by just stats, headaches could be on the horizon. The importance of understanding the situation with Đurišić is crucial when evaluating him as a potential prospect.
In 2020-21, Đurišić played in a total of 42 games throughout a variety of international competitions. He averaged 15.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while shooting 42.4% from the field and just 22.9% from three-point range in 28.0 minutes per game.
A year later, Đurišić would play in a total of 30 games, averaging 11.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. His shooting splits were 40.9% from the field and 32.0% from three-point range. The most notable stretch of games came during the 2021-22 Adidas Next Generation Tournament. While playing through injuries, Đurišić played three games, averaging 20.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Despite the injuries, Đurišić was named Euroleague NGT MVP.
Coming into the 2022-23 season, the hope was that Đurišić would be ready for a bit of a “statement” season. He had just spent the 2021-22 season playing alongside a number of talented players, including Miami Heat 2022 first round selection Nikola Jovic.
While Đurišić has shown some impressive flashes throughout the 2022-23 season, he’s also had to deal with some nagging injuries as well. Đurišić has played in just eight of Mega’s 12 games so far this season. He started off the year by missing the majority of Mega’s preseason due to a throat infection. After that, he suffered a knee sprain, which resulted in him missing several games.
It hasn’t been the start of the year that Đurišić had hoped for coming into the season. Thanks to some impressive play in recent seasons, though, NBA scouts are still going to be intrigued. There’s plenty of upside to go on, and Đurišić has the tools to be one of the top international prospects in 2023 not named Victor.
Let’s let the film do the talking.
Personally, the evaluation of Nikola Đurišić might be one of my favorites in the entire 2023 NBA Draft cycle. When you turn on the tape, there’s plenty to fall in love with. Đurišić is oozing with skills. He plays the game a move ahead on numerous occasions and can wow you with some of his decision-making.
But the percentages will also drive evaluators into a dark dimension of confusion. On the one hand, Đurišić pops on film frequently with his ability to change gears and versatility offensively. However, on the other hand, the outside shooting percentages will give you a cold chill down your spine.
Đurišić will be a good case study for evaluators. Do you focus on the percentages? Or do you believe in the form enough to make you sleep better at night? When I reached out to a scout about Đurišić, I got a positive response followed by a comedic truth. “A lot of people have him in the first. A lot of mid-range game as well, so some haters too.”
The footwork is something that cannot be ignored when it comes to Đurišić. When a prospect might not have the ability to hang his hat on being an “elite athlete,” you’re going to need to make up for it in other areas. A good way to do that is with patience and awareness.
Oftentimes, we praise prospects for their anticipation on the defensive side of the ball. It can also be a valuable advantage for players as an offensive weapon. Đurišić shows on a number of occasions that he can bait defenders into creating just enough of a window to exploit.
Đurišić also does a great job of understanding the positioning of his opponents. He can put the ball down and attack any opponent that might have their momentum carrying themselves in another direction. While Đurišić might not win any slam dunk contests, he can attack off the bounce with a strong first step. The first clip showcases just how much force Nikola can create with his feet. Even as the defender cuts off Đurišić, he still has the patience to step through and create a closer finish.
The second clip features Nikola attacking off the bounce. You will see on numerous occasions that he can use his feet to create a strong spin dribble through the lane. Pairing that with his 6’8” frame and quickness can do wonders for his game.
There’s going to be plenty that point out the outside shooting percentages for Nikola Đurišić, and that’s well deserved. He’s shooting just 10.0% from three-point range this year on 3.8 attempts in just eight games. To compare that to last year, Đurišić shot 32.0% from three on just 2.5 attempts per game.
Đurišić has the tools to be a threat from the outside. That’s a shocking sentence to read, I’m sure. His bread and butter is the mid-range, where Đurišić can dice opponents to pieces. The combination of smoothness and high release suggests that things can turn around when it comes to his efficiency. Đurišić is skilled with the ball in his hands; he can weave his way around the court and get to his spots with ease.
Nikola Đurišić put on a show over the span of three games during the 2021-22 Adidas Next Generation Tournament. The flashes were impressive, even if the shooting splits (31/20/78) didn’t help evaluators sleep better. Đurišić was named Tournament MVP while averaging 20.0 points and 5.0 assists per game. What’s even more impressive was his 9.3 free-throw attempts per game in that stretch.
Đurišić also had this smooth sequence to add to his highlight reel. While quicker defenders might think they have the 18-year-old stopped, that’s when Đurišić knows he has you right where he wants you. Đurišić attacks and then uses a simple shot fake to create the small window he needs to step around his man.
There are plenty of instances on tape in which Đurišić will toy with you when it comes to the idea of his outside shot being a weapon. He has confidence in his shot, and he gets a lot of lift on his attempts. There are plenty of times when you’d convince yourself he’s a 40% shooter from deep, which leaves you even more puzzled when you look at the numbers.
Probably one of my favorite areas of Đurišić as a prospect is his playmaking ability. It might not be the flashiest of passes on a regular basis, but Đurišić can throw pinpoint assists to his teammates. Where he really impresses me is his passing ability off the live dribble.
Đurišić can be running a simple pick-and-roll before he whips a bullet pass to his teammate for a catch-and-shoot three. Đurišić makes it look routine, putting passes on the money that require minimal effort from his receiving teammates.
Fine, I get it. You want to see some flashiness as well. Well, Nikola Đurišić can offer that also. Đurišić attacks an opportunity to create any potential dime opportunity. You’ll be patiently waiting for him to take a shot before he throws a gorgeous dump-off to his teammate.
His floor vision, patience, and feel for the defense continue to make him a special talent with the ball in his hands. The second clip is one that will deserve a couple of re-winds to understand the mastery. Đurišić gets his initial defender in a torture chamber with a simple jab step. The secondary defender realizes this and closes to prevent the wide-open jumper from Đurišić.
That’s when Đurišić realizes his angle is opening up beautifully. He hits the rolling big man with a gorgeous bounce pass for a poster slam.
As offensively skilled as Nikola Đurišić is, there are going to be plenty of questions about his defensive ability. Đurišić has shown some strides of improvement, which will make NBA scouts feel much better about his projection to the next level.
Something that has impressed me is some of the flashes he’s shown off the ball. In the scheme of things, it makes sense when it comes to Đurišić and his feel for the game. He’s shown the ability to read the opposition and anticipate where they are trying to go with the ball.
But what I love is his ability to make an impact on both sides of the floor in just one sequence. In the three clips above, Đurišić makes a play defensively and then goes to work with his vision on the attack.
NBA Draft Sickos got an awesome opportunity at the beginning of the year to see the Overtime Elite play overseas. One of those games included none other than Nikola Đurišić going up against Amen Thompson & Ausar Thompson.
During that game, Đurišić finished with 24 points and six assists on 8-of-13 shooting. That included 4-of-4 from three-point range. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.
Đurišić looked like a player that belonged and was under control throughout the majority of the exhibition. What was even more notable was the number of times that Ausar Thompson would eventually be matched up against Đurišić. The third clip against Ausar is one of my favorites from Đurišić. Look at the footwork away from the ball to create the mid-range opportunity.
Đurišić leans into Ausar to create his first window of separation. He then explodes up the floor before stepping back to create “another window.” Because Ausar thinks that Đurišić is going straight up the floor, he finds himself behind just enough for Đurišić to get the attempt off cleanly.
There were also a couple of fantastic playmaking flashes from Nikola during the OTE exhibition. The first play was simply just a “excuse me?” pass. Đurišić runs the floor and quickly throws a behind-the-back dime to his big man.
Personally, I love the second clip just as much. Đurišić is going to get a high pick-and-roll action here. Notice the patience to bring the OTE defense over for this pass. An extra dribble from Đurišić brings both OTE defenders with him and creates this wide-open field goal attempt for his teammate. Understanding angles and attention to detail can go a long way for a talented young guard, and that’s just what Đurišić knows.
The 2023 NBA Draft class is going to feature a plethora of exciting talent. When it comes to the international crop of prospects, Victor Wembanyama is leading the march. But NBA scouts and evaluators are patiently hoping that this international class will turn the corner in a hurry.
While names such as Rayan Rupert and James Nnaji have generated some buzz, there’s still time for other names to make a late charge in NBA Draft circles. If Mega’s Nikola Đurišić can start to find his groove, he might just be the latest name to throw his hat into the ring. Đurišić will need to become more efficient, especially with his outside shot, but the rest of the tools will generate plenty of fans in NBA front offices.