When the Miami Heat selected Nikola Jovic with the 27th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft out of Serbia, many did not know what to expect. With very little known about Jovic on draft night, Coach Erik Spoelstra sat down with the team’s scouting department and got to work reviewing Jovic’s film. Once Spoelstra looked and learned more about the nineteen-year-old, the more apparent the rookie’s talents became.
“The first thing that jumped out when the scouts had us watch edits on him, I literally had never even heard of him, and it was his passing,” said Spoelstra, per the Sun Sentinel. “He was a ballhandling, passing three-man previously in Europe.”
“I think any young player that knows how to pass and is a willing passer is super unique. All these players coming up, nobody’s really looking to pass. They’re looking to score, looking to put points on the board. I think it’s just a really interesting skill set when people can see the floor and can see two plays ahead. And he had a lot of that as a young player playing in an adult men’s professional league; he was developing a lot of those habits. So we’re playing him a little bit more as a passing big, which fits right into his skill set.”
Jovic’s unique passing abilities are not the only thing Spoelstra was impressed with; standing at 6’11 and still being so young, Jovic’s rebounding is another vital quality.
“I mean, he rebounded pretty well over there,” Spoelstra said, referring to Jovic’s time in Serbia “You just don’t know analytically if that translates to the NBA. So I was just kind of open to seeing that.”
It seems like Jovic has settled in quite well to the NBA’s level of play after racking up his second double-double of the preseason. That is an excellent sign for the rookie after facing some struggles during Summer League. According to Spoelstra and Heat scouts, Jovic had never played the four or five in Serbia and was strictly a wing player.
The new positions, environment, and pace of play were more than likely what was contributing to Jovic’s struggles.
“He’s a quick learner,” Spoelstra said. “So he picks up things faster than I probably anticipated for a kid his age. He’s diligent. He works at it, in pre-practice, after practice, watches film. He takes accountability for his mistakes, and he just doesn’t often make the same mistake twice in a row.”
It will be exciting to see how Coach Spo fits Jovic into this playoff-tested Heat core. However, one thing is for sure being a former video coordinator for the team himself, Spoelstra has a natural eye for talent, and we should expect to see more of Jovic this season.
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