Really a promising player, Uros Tripkovic is a very solid prospect who should emerge soon as one of the best guards in all of in Europe. He's very skilled, smart, athletic and a good competitor. He displays almost the entire package.
Uros is quite an athletic kid. He enjoys very good legs that make him quick and even explosive, showing a good vertical leap.
When it comes to scoring, Tripkovic likes to use his jumper. He's an excellent shooter, using his strong legs to fire away from high in the air, with beautiful mechanics and a quick release. He's very consistent from static positions, but he can make them off the dribble too, showing the ability to create his own shots. He's pretty skilled translating his horizontal quickness into a balanced leap to deliver the jumper. Besides, he enjoys great range, even out to the NBA three-point line.
Almost as good as his shooting is his ability to slash to the hoop. You would expect no less, as we're talking about a player with great handles, a good first step, the quickness and the fearlessness to be effective. He can attack both sides of his defender, but many times he doesn't finish the action himself, whether it's because he pulls up to deliver a jumper at some point of the way, or because he sees a better option and feeds an open teammate. And that's because he's a fine passer as well, enjoying remarkable court vision for a wing player. He's also pretty good at playing pick & roll situations as well as in transition.
Tripkovic has the versatility to play some point guard. He has the handles, the quickness, the court vision and the passing skills. He has good enough legs to defend both guard positions, showing very good lateral movement. He played the point on a regular basis when he was younger, although right now he's pretty much focusing on the off-guard position, even if he sporadically is in charge of directing his team because of teammate Vule Avdalovic's injury.
Anyway, with Tripkovic's skills and basketball IQ, the possibilities are multiplied. He really feels and knows the game. You will find very few people doubting his bright future. He's a very special player, even from an esthetical point of view. His game, his movements--all show a particular elegance that makes the experience of watching him even more enjoyable.
There's not too much to talk about the weak points of Tripkovic at this point. He's quite a complete player. But, perhaps, what hurts Uros the most is his size. While at 6-5 he isn't undersized, it's only average for a shooting guard. Where he might suffer the most playing at the next level would be finishing penetrations against the big guys. He has the athleticism to make up for it, but he will have to fully use all his skills to succeed in the NBA. He's capable, though. No doubt about it.
Another issue right now is his strength. It's the same old story: a European teenager, therefore a skinny guy. It affects his defense mostly, having troubles to fight through screens. But it isn't something that can't be solved with time and the proper work.
Regarding his PG skills, he's not a pure playmaker. He can carry the ball, he's a good passer, but he's not a true organizer. He doesn't show a significant ability to control the court and the tempo of game. While being able to spend time there, I don't think it will be his main duty anywhere he plays, especially considering that there won't likely be any need for him to play there, as everything leads to believe that he will become a very good shooting guard.
Finally, as fine a gunner as Tripkovic is, he's still inconsistent with some of his off the dribble jumpers, especially the most unbalanced ones requiring the most strength and range. So right now, although being able to create his own shots, he's not as effective as would be desired, but I think he will end up being able to pretty soon.
Tripkovic is another product of the seemingly endless pool of talent coming from Partizan Belgrade. He started to play some games with the senior team in the 2002/03 season, including a few meaningless appearances in the Euroleague, when he was barely 16 years old. But he hadn't started to get real action with grown men until this season.
Before that, in the summer of 2004, he was a member of the very talented Serbian National Team that played in the European Junior Championship in Zaragoza (Spain) and disappointed big time, only being able to finish in fifth position (see links). Not being particularly brilliant there, he had a solid tournament while insinuating a much better future. He averaged 13.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals.
This season he benefited immensely from the injury plague that has been decimating Partizan all year, enjoying a lot of playing time. While we don't know whether the opportunities he received is more a result of luck or merits, his performance level has been excellent, even to the point that he has surpassed some veteran teammates in the rotation. In the Adriatic League, where the Serbian team has all the options open, he's averaging 12.9 points, 1 rebound, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals in over 27 minutes of playing time. In the Euroleague, where Partizan could only win 2 out of the 14 games of the regular season, his numbers were 10.7 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1 steal in 26 minutes per game (see links for in-depth article).
Given the level of competitiveness showed by Partizan in the Euroleague, we can't talk about top international competition regarding Tripkovic experience. But for an 18 year old player in Europe, those are quite good credentials.
Whenever Uros decides to declare, he should be a first round pick, but this year's draft seems a little early for him. He's still very young, too young to play in a league as physical as the NBA. One or two years more in Europe, getting bigger and refining his skills, can make wonders for a player that likely won't need to speculate with hype and potential to get himself a guaranteed contract in America. With enough patience, a place in the lottery awaits him down the road. He should be able to hold is own in the NBA as a rookie by that point as well, instead of rotting on someone's bench.
This doesn't mean that people won't try to push him out sooner, though. Almost every agent who works with European NBA players and thinks anything of himself is fighting for his services right now. It will be interesting to see who he ends up signing with and how quickly that agent will try to capitalize on his vast potential.
I have little doubt in my mind that Tripkovic will become a very good player. How good, it remains to be seen. He's no seven footer, and it will be a difficult task for him to succeed in the NBA. But I think he's capable, I feel he has what it takes to achieve it: the talent and skills, enough physical and athletic gifts, and the right character.
While the Ray Allen comparison might seem a little over the top, and that's something we prefer to stay away from here at DraftExpress, this reflects more in his outstanding feel for the game, his class, the talent he shows, and the fact that he appears to have the complete package in terms of basketball skills.