Damir Markota is a perimeter oriented power forward with a good shooting touch and a decent physical set.
At 6-11 Markota has excellent size for the power forward position. Hes very athletic for his size, being highly fluid running up and down the floor, extremely coordinated and showing a good motor to put those things to work. Markota has good speed getting up and down the floor. His vertical leap is one of his biggest assets as he can jump high and get off the floor quickly. His footwork is the paint is above average, but could stand some further improvement.
Offensively, Markotas only reliable tool and probably his best strength when discussing his NBA potential is his jumper. His mechanics are somewhat ugly, but he gets good enough elevation to get his shot off even with a defender in his face. Damir needs some time to settle his feet--think about Dirk Nowitzkis odd stance at the free throw line--but has enough size and lift to get his shot off against anyone. He is an accurate shooter from beyond the arc with excellent range from behind the international three-point line.
Inside the paint, Markota has a soft touch around the rim and is good finisher using both hands. Once he gets the ball close to the basket he can release an effective hook shot.
His off the dribble play has been inconsistent, but he can put the ball on the floor just enough to create space to release his shot on the perimeter. He especially likes to use a series of fakes and jab-steps when is guarded closely on perimeter. He has shown potential at times to hit shots in difficult situations even without his feet set, being off-balance or fading away His first step is very good and that leaves the impression that he could be a dangerous slasher threat if he improves his ball-handling ability.
On defense Markota has improved significantly over the past year and that is the main reason why he is getting consistent playing time now for a Euroleague team. He is a very active defender and plays hard despite his skinny body. Damir is already a good rebounder at the European level, with potential to become an excellent one due to his height and vertical leap.
Markota is a gifted passer with court vision that is well above average for a big man, but he often risks too much which leads to an increased number of turnovers.
When speaking of his intangibles, some time ago he was labeled as a problematic player with off the court issues, mainly surrounding his coachability and professional attitude or lack thereof. This seems to be behind him right now and he actually shows a very good demeanor on the court.
While his improvement over the past year has been very encouraging, Markota is still a raw prospect that is still a few years away from making any kind of contribution at the NBA level.
His wingspan is very poor, appearing to be shorter then his height, which limits his shot-blocking, rebounding and defensive potential tremendously. Speaking of shot-blocking, Markota is below average for someone of his height and leaping ability. He bites on pump fakes too often, and his timing is sub-par.
Another physical weakness is a normal one for European prospects-- body strength. Markota has gained some pounds this past year, but he is still weak especially in the upper body. His frame doesnt look very promising, but he should be able to add at least some weight to his frame as he doesnt appear to have fully grown into his body yet.
Defensively, he has some problems against stronger opponents in the post, but he shows good toughness in this department and should improve somewhat as he gains more strength. He is a good help defender, but at times will overreact and leave his man with too much space and therefore risk his position for rebounds. Markota would have potential to play small forward in the NBA on the offensive end, but would probably struggle on the other end of the floor. His footwork is poor in man to man defense, especially trying to defend the perimeter. He does appear to move laterally well enough, as his fundamentals are lacking in this area. On team defense at times he is late on rotations and not quick enough getting out to defend the perimeter. He is sometimes not focused enough mentally on the court, gambling for steals and biting on pump fakes.
Some will wonder whether Markota is a tweener at the NBA level. Offensively he is probably a small forward, but at 6-11 his most natural position physically is probably as a power forward. The problem is, he lacks the bulk to hold his own consistently defending this position and there are concerns about how this along with his poor wingspan will affect his rebounding. We must say that in Europe he often does quite well here thanks to his quickness and vertical leap.
Related to his NBA potential as a power forward, offensively, he doesnt have any type of back to the basket game to speak of at this point. He looks helpless even when trying to post up significantly smaller opponents to take advantage of his size. He can release an effective hook shot when he gets good position under the rim, but those cases are far and few between. His finishing around the basket is improved, but he is still slow to react at times. His free-throw shooting needs work, as he shoots just around 60% from the stripe.
His ball-handling ability is probably the thing that limits his offensive production the most, especially on the perimeter. He can get into the lane occasionally, but only when driving to the right. He should work on this since his speed would enable him to beat almost any power forward in Europe, and make his outside shot that much more dangerous, but at the moment he is unable to capitalize on this. This would also enable him to create offense for others due to his court vision and passing skills. When he does put the ball on the floor at the moment, he drives with his head down and a bit out of control.
Markota isnt the greatest decision maker, taking ill-advised shots from perimeter early in possessions or trying to make spectacular passes instead of simple ones. His basketball IQ can be questionable at times, but he is a teenager playing with grown men in the Euroleague, which makes things more obvious than it would at the NCAA level. He is definitely not your typical European who is 100% fundamentally sound and very cool and smart about the things he does on the court, particularly with his shot selection, defensive rotations and decision making.
This is the first season in which Markota is getting consistent playing time with Cibona Zagreb. Currently he averages 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 21 minutes per game in the Euroleague, while shooting 40.5 % from downtown and 52% from field. In the Adriatic league he has similar stats: 8.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game with almost the same shooting percentage as in the Euroleague.
Last summer Markota led the European Under-20 Championships in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 18.3 and 10.8 respectively. Later he was invited to the training camp of the Croatian senior National team.
In 2004 Markota won the Dunk contest at the Croatian All-star game.
He already declared for the draft in 2004, but was forced to withdraw as he couldnt get guarantee that he would be drafted in the first round. This year he could be very well in for good, even is he doesnt get a first round guarantee. It all depends on whether his club and agents will be able to come up with a reasonable buyout figure, as he has a multi-year contract in Croatia with no exit clause.
His very consistent play in the Euroleague gives him a decent shot at going in the first round, but workouts will probably be the deciding factor. Teams will have to decide what is his NBA position and how much potential he has left there.
Even if he gets drafted this year, its not a give-in that he has to come over right away. He probably isnt physically ready for the NBA yet and still could use consistent playing time to polish his all-around game, but unlike last season you can definitely see the making of good player in him right now.
Markota grow up with Hornets PF Maciej Lampe in Sweden, prior to returning to Croatia when Balkan war ended.