DraftExpressProfile: Damir Markota, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook
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Damir Markota
Top 25s - Full List
RankCategoryTotal
19DRB/40p6.1
22DRB/405.9
103PA/FGA0.67
19Reb/g4.4
20Reb/g4.4
18Reb/40p10.3
21Reb/40p8.1
21Reb/408.1
21Reb/4010.1
22Reb/408.1
Team: NON-NBA College Team: Cibona Zagreb
PhysicalsPositions SalaryMisc
H: 6' 11"
W: 225 lbs
Bday: 12/27/1985
(28 Years Old)
Current: PF
NBA:   PF
Possible: PF
Agent: Marc Cornstein
High School:
Hometown: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Drafted:  Pick 59 in 2006 by Spurs
Best Case: Vladmir Radmanovic
Worst Case: Dan Langhi

Basic Per Game Statistics - Comprehensive Stats - Statistical Top 25s
YearLeagueNameGPMinPtsFGFGAFG%2Pt2PtA2P%3Pt3PtA3P%FTMFTAFT%OffDefTOTAstsStlsBlksTOsPFs
2014/15AdriaticDamir Markota230.014.54.09.044.43.05.554.51.03.528.65.57.078.61.55.06.52.01.51.01.52.5

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An American Perspective on Europe: The Big Men (Part Two)
June 26, 2006
Markota brings an intriguing mix of European skill and American athleticism to the table. He is quick, fluid, and highly coordinated for a player his size, running the floor extremely well and capable of finishing very strong around the basket. He makes sharp, quick cuts to the basket and is difficult to keep up with on the perimeter with his off the ball movement. He prefers mostly to face the basket and is a deadly shooter with his feet set and with range that extends all the way to the NBA 3-point line, despite his extremely unorthodox mechanics. This is the extent of his potential at the moment, and the reason he’ll likely be drafted somewhere in the 2nd round and stashed overseas to continue to develop.

While Markota plays the power forward position in Europe and has great height and athleticism to continue to do so in the NBA, his other physical attributes are below average. He lacks both bulk and the type of frame that can be expected to continue to add much weight to it. His wingspan is well below average as well, which hampers his potential as a defender and rebounder at the 4-point in the NBA. Markota also lacks any real tools to become a significant threat in the paint to take advantage of his great size and athleticism, showing little to no post footwork or back to the basket moves and limited scoring options besides his turnaround jumper.

If deemed a small forward, there are other significant question marks that Markota will have to answer, starting with his defense. His fundamentals on this end of the floor are extremely poor in man to man defense, using his hands too much, showing unpolished footwork and very average awareness, picking up careless fouls and being late to rotate in the team defense concept. Offensively, his shot selection can be very poor and his overall decision making questionable. His ball-handling skills are rudimentary at best, dribbling the ball with his head down and being quite turnover prone. It’s probably too late to fix his shooting mechanics, so there are some question marks even here about much potential he has as a perimeter shooter.

Futher concerning about his upside and more-so his likelihood to achieve it are the many off the court problems Markota has had over the past few years, mostly in terms of his affinity for the night life scene in Zagreb and some issues he’s had with coaches and teammates. Markota has noticeably matured recently, but the light bulb still hasn’t fully come on as evidenced by quotes from his teammate Scoonie Penn in the Croatian media about whether he has NBA potential: “Yeah, when he wants to. I said it to him two years ago; and I’m still saying it to him. When I see him not working hard, I say: ‘Are you kidding me, you’re 21 years old, do you know what kind of life you have ahead of you?’ It all depends on him and his attitude. If he wants to, if he realizes what it takes to be a true professional on and off the court and he dedicates himself to it, he could be an NBA player, and a good one.”

Despite these concerns, Markota is still an intriguing prospect with quite a bit of room left to develop. His size, athleticism and perimeter shooting skills could already make him a serviceable NBA player when considering what his likely role in the league would be, and there is always the upside of stashing him overseas for a few years to see how he continues to improve. With the depth of this year’s draft crop taking a hit with the age limit and a weak Orlando pre-draft camp, combined with numerous teams in the 2nd round possessing multiple picks, Markota’s standing in the draft has improved almost by default.
[Read Full Article]
 
Adriatic League 2005/2006 Recap
April 26, 2006
This was a breakout season for Damir Markota, after spending the last two years on the end of Cibona Zagreb’s bench. While this season certainly helped his career, now that Europeans are less en vogue and it’s become obvious that he is a full-time PF, his potential might not seem as sexy anymore.

This season Markota proved things that we already knew already for years--he is highly athletic and a very good shooter, but he also showed many flaws that came to play because he didn’t see much action earlier in his career. In the second part of the season Markota was having trouble with a pesky groin injury, and his play suffered considerably. In the meantime he had surgery and returned to the floor this past weekend for the Adriatic League Final 8.

Markota shoots the ball very well, but considering how much he relies on his jumper, you would think that he is a dead-eye shooter, which he isn’t at this point with his unorthodox mechanics. Occasionally Damir showed some slashing skills, but he isn’t a very confident ball-handler and often looks out of control driving to the hoop. Damir also doesn’t have many post skills to speak of, scoring some points this year with jump-hook shots, but being much more comfortable playing on the perimeter. The skill that hasn’t been exposed as much as before is his passing, which is well above average for a big man. And while he might not be anywhere near as good a defender as his coach wants him to be, Markota has made some serious improvement in this area from two years ago when he seemingly couldn’t guard a chair.

The best part of his athleticism – his explosive vertical leap, helps him to come up with many rebounds since he is able to get off the floor quickly and jump high to snatch rebounds out of his area. He will need to improve his rebounding fundamentals, though, since he doesn’t always box out and has trouble holding his position on the block against stronger opponents.

The biggest drawbacks of his long-term potential are his very short arms and unimpressive frame, which leads us to believe that he will never become anything more than just an average defender. Markota is going to declare for this year’s draft according to his agent in the States, and as long as he doesn’t tank in workouts should be picked somewhere in the 2nd round…if he stays in. Given his fair share of weaknesses and the situation at Cibona, where he could get a more prominent role next year due to their financial troubles, Markota might be able to improve his stock by playing another Euroleague season before becoming automatically eligible. He already declared once and withdrew since he couldn’t get a first round guarantee, but has no problem withdrawing again according to what the NBA has clarified to us.
[Read Full Article]
 
Euroleague Regular Season’s Best of the Rest
February 20, 2006

In the latter stages of the regular season Markota suffered through some minor injuries that may have cost him a spot amongst the top-5. His game suffered, but he was still able to put in some decent efforts and participate in Cibona Zagreb’s qualification for the next phase of Euroleague competition.

Damir started the season red-hot from behind the three-point line, leading the Euroleague in 3-point percentage for the first couple of weeks. Since then he cooled off and missed 20 of his last 26 attempts from downtown. He showed a little more versatility in his offensive game lately, but still scores mostly with outside jumpers. Markota attacked the basket more aggressively in the second part of competition and even showed some post game, but not consistently enough. He will need to work on his ball-handling skills hard this summer, because this could open up a whole another dimension to his game, as he can blow by most Euroleague power forwards with his speed.

Defensively, he improved on the glass, boxing out better and increasing his rebounding numbers. He still makes some foolish mistakes on defensive rotations and finds himself out of position from time to time, but is consistently improving in this area and is on the way to becoming a pretty solid defender. Some doubts about his NBA position seem to be resolved this season, as it has become clear that he is incapable of defending perimeter players due to his lateral quickness not being up to par with his other physical gifts. He will definitely be a power forward in the NBA and in order to enjoy some success there will obviously need to add bulk to his skinny frame.

Markota can be happy with the level of performance he exhibited this season, being back on the NBA radar after a year and a half of decline. If he decides to put his name in the draft in June, barring dramatic improvement in the last few months of the season Markota should be picked somewhere between the late first and early second round.

[Read Full Article]
 
Damir Markota NBA Draft Scouting Report
February 3, 2006
Strengths
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. He’s 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, Markota’s 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 Nowitzki’s 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.


Weaknesses
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 doesn’t look very promising, but he should be able to add at least some weight to his frame as he doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 isn’t 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.

Competition
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.


Outlook
He already declared for the draft in 2004, but was forced to withdraw as he couldn’t get guarantee that he would be drafted in the first round. This year he could be very well in for good, even is he doesn’t 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, it’s not a give-in that he has to come over right away. He probably isn’t 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.

Facts
Markota grow up with Hornets PF Maciej Lampe in Sweden, prior to returning to Croatia when Balkan war ended.


[Read Full Article]
 
Euroleague Stock Watch Part 2 (Stock Up)
December 23, 2005
As predicted, Markota has made significant progress this season, becoming a main factor in Cibona’s surprisingly good effort in the first stage of the Euroleague along with Scoonie Penn.

Markota has been red-hot from downtown, hitting more than half of his three-point attempts (even nailing 10 in a row at one point). His mechanics look smoother than last year, but there is definitely room for improvement. Still, the most important thing is that he can get it off even when an opponent is guarding him closely thanks to his size and leaping ability, and also of course the fact that it goes in more than not. His off the ball movement is very good and this helps him in this area as well. Markota is also a gifted passer with very nice court vision, but sometimes risks too much here which leads to an increased number of turnovers. Speaking of offense, he leaves a lot to be desired in terms of slashing. He can take his man off the dribble occasionally thanks to a very good first step, but his ball-handling skills prevent him from doing so more consistently. In general, he needs to develop more of an in-between game, as he hardly takes any shots from mid-range.

His post game is probably the worst part of the package; looking helpless even when trying to post up smaller opponents to take advantage of his size. He has a nice hook shot and is able to release it when he gets good position in the post, which is not often due to his lack of strength.

Defensively he has been rock solid, showing good effort and footwork to stay in front of his man, while being very active as a help defender. Defense is the biggest reason why he is getting consistent playing time, unlike last year.

Markota needs to improve his rebounding skills as his potential is this department is good. He gets off the floor very quickly and has a nice vertical leap, but often doesn’t position himself well and lacks a bit of length. It’s the same story with his shot-blocking, where he’s below average when you consider his athletic ability. He bites on too many pump fakes and needs to improve his timing.

One of the biggest concerns regarding Markota in the past was his attitude, and he seems to have improved and finally appears to be fully concentrated on basketball.

Markota still has a ways to go with his development, but being able to produce at the Euroleague level the way he has at his age has to mean something. There are some serious holes in his games, but you must like his potential. Being a 6-11, athletic shooter with solid defensive ability should him right in the mix for the first round this June.
[Read Full Article]
 
Zagreb Prospects Old and New Make Early Impact
October 11, 2005
It was truly a great game for Damir Markota who is looking much better than last season. Even during the warmups you could see that he has much more confidence in himself then before, Coach Spahija’s call-up to the National team and a good performance at the U-20 European Championships apparently had something to do with that. Markota was hot almost immediately after missing a dunk and being blocked by Ante Tomic, starting his show by scoring 11 points in the first 8 minutes of the game. He hit two-three pointers with authority with his mechanics looking smoother than usual. Another five points came after the counter-attack, where he showed his tremendous speed in the open court and a good vertical leap by throwing the ball down strong inside the paint. His off the ball movement was exceptional and he truly was putting in a great effort.

Unlike last season, Markota was getting many touches on the offensive end and was playing a lot of pick and roll with Scoonie Penn. His lower body strength looks improved, although his upper body still needs quite a bit of work. You can tell that he has been hitting the weight room, but the results will be tougher to come by because of his narrow frame.

Defensively he was guarding Tomic pretty well, disrupting him from establishing position in the post and contesting many shots. Damir moved his feet well and was often helping his perimeter oriented teammates with good results. He rebounded well as he can simply jump a bit higher than anyone else on the floor thanks to his excellent athletic ability. Markota also came up with one monster block on Zagreb’s point guard Ozren Misic. Coach Anzulovic replaced him with Luksa Andric with 2 minutes left in the 1st period and Markota stayed on the bench until 5 minutes to go in halftime. When he came in again he made another three-pointer that capped off an excellent first half for him. In the 2nd he didn’t get nearly as many touches and came away with just 2 points off a beautiful hook shot after a spin move under Zagreb’s basket.

Markota plays on offense more like a small forward, showing great speed and shooting touch, but at nearly 7-foot he can’t guard perimeter players with much success, so adding some more post moves and bulk might be a priority for him. If he continues to play like this Markota could very well be one of hottest international names for the 2006 NBA draft.

Perhaps the biggest improvement has come in Markota’s attitude as he is now playing with great effort and is looking very motivated to prove himself at this level. The good news for him is that his main competition at power forward, American Bennett Davison, is injured and will be out for the next 2-3 weeks.
[Read Full Article]
 
Breakout Candidate: Damir Markota
July 27, 2005
Despite being only 19 years old, Damir Markota (formerly Omerhodzic) has been known for quite some time already as one of most talented young forwards in Europe. Up until this summer, though, he was also known as a player that hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations of such a dynamic young player who showed such great potential at a young age. Part of that had to do with the situation he was in, playing for Cibona Zagreb, a team with a long history of success at all levels that has always been considered a powerhouse team in Europe and Croatia, up until recently. In the last two seasons with the Euroleague team, Damir logged 67 DNP’s in 99 games. Coach Drazen Anzulovic didn’t show much faith in Markota and Cibona was even trying to shop him at one point last season according to sources. Fortunately for them, nobody was ready to pay their asking price, as Markota now looks ready to have a breakout season and be a major contributor for them.

goodyear.adriaticbasket.com


Markota had a strong showing this month at the U-20 European Championship in Russia, leading the competition in both points (18.5) and rebounds (11.0). He also finished 8th in assists, averaging close to 3 per game. Although Croatia failed to reach the quarterfinals, Markota was one of the biggest stars in Moscow, and certainly one of the top NBA prospects. He used his athleticism and size to be a force in the paint, while complimenting that by showing a nice touch from outside as well. Those are characteristics which the Croatian senior National team is lacking, and Coach Neven Spahija surprised everyone last week by announcing that Markota is one of the 16 players who will compete for a spot on Croatia’s Eurobasket (Men’s European Championships) roster in Serbian & Montenegro this September, alongside some current NBA players like Gordan Giricek and Zoran Planinic, and future prospects such as Roko Ukic and Marko Tomas.

This caused quite a stir in Croatia due to the fact that some steadier players, like Euroleague big men Sandro Nicevic (who had a great season last year with AEK) and Tomislav Ruzic (ASVEL), didn’t get invited over Cibona’s young benchwarmer Markota. Coach Spahija explained his decision by saying that “Markota is the only power forward on the roster, and that’s the biggest problem of our team.”

All of Croatia’s frontcourt players are mainly low post threats, and Spahija feels like he needs a big man who could play facing the basket as well. Markota is a good shooter along with being a better athlete than any other player on Croatia’s roster.

After training camp, which starts on August 1st, Coach Spahija will choose 12 players who will participate in the Eurobasket competition in September. Markota, on paper, seems to have very little, if any chance to be on the final roster. But on the other hand, is Spahija going to cut his only power forward?

Regardless, Markota should be happy to be able to prove himself in training camp, where he will face players like Maccabi Tel Aviv center Nikola Vujcic and Orlando Magic center Mario Kasun, along with the NBA guards Giricek and Planinic. He should be able to take advantage of it and improve his game in the process.

Damir was always known in the past as a player who has problems getting along with his coaches and teammates, but now seems to be a different person as he has matured with age. You’ll no longer see him in Zagreb’s night clubs at 5 a.m. and isn’t the type that will start fights during practice anymore. Damir seems to be eager to develop his game and take advantage of his exceptional physical gifts.

Damir Markota is a perimeter oriented forward with very good athleticism and size, reminiscent of Seattle Supersonics combo forward Vladimir Radmanovic. His physical attributes are currently his best assets. He is a very mobile player and runs the floor like a guard. Listed at 6-10 (although he looks closer to 6-11) Markota has the size, skills and athleticism needed to play either forward position, along with the versatility you get when you combine a European skill-set with NBA caliber athleticism. Damir is considered an explosive European prospect thanks to his quick vertical leap and his ability to play above the rim. He also shows solid footwork on both sides of the floor.



Markota prefers to play facing the basket. He is a very good shooter with range out to the international three-point land. This is complimented by the fact that also has a very solid first step and could be good slashing threat in the future, but his ball-handling skills are still poor and he doesn’t yet feel comfortable putting the ball on the floor. Markota has very soft hands, which along with his height and athleticism help him get his hands on a good number of rebounds. Damir occasionally shows good intensity on the defensive end of the floor, but still needs to work on this aspect of the game to make it at the NBA level. His defense has improved significantly over the past season, though, and he’s not exposed on the defensive end as he used to be anymore. He rarely has a chance to show it at the senior level, but Markota also possesses very nice court vision and passing skills for a power forward, as witnessed by the 3 assists per game he averaged in Moscow.

Despite the fact that he has seemingly been on the radar for years, Markota has yet to turn 20 years old and won’t for another five months. His best days are definitely ahead of him, and time is definitely on his side.

Markota’s biggest knock for the NBA level as far as his future position goes seems to his below average wingspan. Like many European prospects, his arms are very short, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see his wingspan measuring out smaller than his size. Right now he struggles at times playing at the senior level because of his lack of bulk. He is a skinny player at this point and therefore gets pushed around in the post by players that are older and stronger than him. This also makes it difficult for him to finish around the basket with contact. Speaking of contact, he does not seem to be a huge fan of the physical game and often will rather settle for the outside shot than do the dirty work inside the paint. If Markota is serious about being a first rounder this year or next, it would be in his best interest to continue working on his body in the weight room along with continuing to compliment his excellent perimeter game with some real low post skills.

Markota is an accurate shooter, but his mechanics are not a thing of beauty. His shot looks rather awkward at times and he’s surprisingly poor from the charity stripe. Markota’s work ethic will be tested by how consistent of a shooter he can become in game-time situations and the range he can develop through the hard work he will have to put in over the next year or two. This is mainly a matter of repetition and dedication for him as all the raw skills are already in place.

What is definite is that his lateral quickness is not good enough at this point to guard perimeter players in the NBA. In Europe he is athletic enough to stay in front of the power forwards he goes up against, but his defense is average or below average whomever he guards due to his body. He gets outmuscled on a regular basis trying to guard players in the post, and uses his hands too much on defense guarding the perimeter, so he is often in foul trouble. Damir too often bites on pump fakes and tries to contest almost every shot, risking his defensive and rebounding position for his team.

Offensively Markota has no in-between game due to his limited slashing abilities. His ball-handling must improve for him to be considered a true prospect at small forward for the NBA. That involves creating his own shot and making his way to the basket as well as scoring off the dribble from different parts of the court. As a power forward in Europe, his back to the basket game is still a work in progress, and he’s not a real scoring threat in the low post at the senior level.

Mentally is where Markota has been questioned the most over his short career so far. He was widely known in the past as a short tempered player who had serious issues getting along with teammates and his coaching staff, while his work ethic was considered a strong point of his. Reports over the last year or have consistently indicated that that has begun to change, to the point that his Coach at Cibona has publicly expressed his satisfaction with the work Markota has put in both on and off the court. The fact that he’s made a full circle and been invited to Croatia’s training camp for the European Championships are a good indication that his career is on the right track. It is quite possible that the 19 year old Markota has matured as a person and finally realized how hard he will have to work to reach his vast potential. According to his agent in the States Marc Cornstein, it was the summer he spent in America in 2004 preparing for the NBA draft and working out for teams (before eventually withdrawing) that was the turning point in his eyes. “I don’t think there was ever a question in anyone’s mind about Damir’s talent, it was his attitude that always was the key,” said Cornstein. “He’s matured a lot over the past few years, and you can see that things are starting to pay off for him. The summer he spent here in America was a great learning experience for him, making him realize just how much dedication it will take for him to make the NBA.”

Damir will probably have to pick one position on the court for the NBA at some point and stick to it in order to master the many skills needed to cut it at that spot. Considering his below average wingspan and the fact that he’s an excellent athlete and long-range shooter, his future in the league might be at the 3. Therefore the two things he needs to work the most on are his ball-handling skills and perimeter defense, along with showing the ability to be virtually automatic when he is asked to knock down long range shots. Complimenting that with some low post skills to add to his versatility will certainly help his cause.

DraftExpress’s Jonathan Givony spoke to an NBA scout that has been following Markota throughout his career so far, to get his professional opinion on where Damir stands in the eyes of the NBA. Because of the rules regarding what employees of NBA teams are allowed to say about players who are not yet eligible for the draft, this conversation was conducted off the record. This particular NBA scout just got back from the U-20 Junior Championship in Moscow, where he saw Markota lead the tournament in both scoring and rebounding and had this to say: “It’s obvious that Markota has matured a lot since he entered the draft a little over a year ago. He shot the ball very well in Moscow and was extremely aggressive, especially rebounding the ball. He’s an athletic player who has very good speed for a guy who is 6-11, including good feet and good legs. His off the ball movement is good and he showed a quick release on his jump shot which is crucial for him. To me what really kills him is the fact that he has really short arms, practically no length. I think he has to be a 3 for the NBA, but I think he can do that. I compare him to Peja Stojakovic a little, because he has the same height and is starting to develop the same complete game. He’ll have to play like a big guard to really have a chance, and that means making shots when his team gets him the ball. He came to work out for us in ’04 when he first declared for the draft, and he really got beat up in that workout. He was more of a 4 back then. He used to be a little crazy, but it seems like he is a lot more under control now, like you said, he’s matured. In terms of Markota and the NBA, we will have to see. He definitely has his work cut out for him, with plenty left to prove. He’s in a great situation for sure and it will be very interesting to follow him. I want to see him playing in the Euroleague next year to really see his progress.”

After returning from his NBA draft summer experience, last season was up-and-down affair for Markota. He officially changed his name right before the season started, from Omerhodzic to Markota, in honor of his mother (who raised him) and her maiden name. In some games he started, while in others he warmed the bench all game long. Even when he was in the starting line-up, he didn’t always get a lot of playing time, often leaving the game for good after opening in the starting five in the first quarter. Markota was never a big factor in Cibona’s offense anyway, most of the time just setting screens and hanging around in the post. There were no plays called for him and he did not seem to be Cibona’s star PG, Marko Popovic’s favorite player, rarely seeing the ball from him even when he was open on the three point line. His defense was also inconsistent. In some games he struggled mightily, while is others he shined. For example one of his best performances was against Partizan Belgrade when he guarding the MVP of Adriatic league, Dejan Milojevic, known as the “Serbian Barkley.” Milojevic was noticeably bothered by Markota’s size and athleticism on both ends of the floor.

Next season looks more promising for the young and athletic power forward in terms of production and playing time. Cibona VIP currently has only 5 players under contract and is facing financial problems so it is unlikely that they will be able to bring many more good players. Under these circumstances, Markota should see a big increase in playing time and could have a great chance to prove himself in the top European competition– the Euroleague. As of right now, Cibona only has Marton Bader and Josko Poljak in their front court next to Markota. Both are 7 footers that play more as centers than as power forwards.

After winning 10 straight Croatian titles, Cibona began to struggle in the past few years and has only won one trophy in the last 3 seasons. That, along with a lack of fan support pushed sponsors away from the club. However, Cibona will be playing in the Euroleague at least one more year and that’s a great opportunity for Markota to show people what he can do against the strongest competition outside the U.S. Fran Vasquez earned himself a lottery spot with a pretty strong showing in the Euroleague last season, can Markota do something similar?

Being a member of the Croatian National Team will certainly help Markota earn a better reputation amongst his teammates, referees and maybe even his coach. He should get more shot attempts next season, which will help to determine whether or not he can score on his own in senior competition the way he does in the junior competitions.

Cibona doesn’t have a great track record of developing young talent, Talented former Zagreb swingman Marko Tomas (now at Real Madrid) refused to go there, as did Toronto draftee Roko Ukic, even when they weren’t that interesting for European powerhouses or NBA clubs as they are today. Some of the bigger Croatian talents in past drafts, like Zoran Planinic and Dalibor Bagaric for example (both first round picks) were forced to declare for the NBA because of the lack of playing time they saw at Cibona. Bagaric was out of the league after his rookie contract expired, and Planinic is on the same track.

Josip Sesar (selected in 2nd round by Boston) was even more talented, but after coming to Cibona from KK Zagreb, his development as a player seemingly stopped. Another example is Dubravko Zemljic, once a top European talent, who is now pretty much an unknown player.

Cibona now has a chance to change their reputation and make Markota the exception to the rule. We’ll have to see how things play out this summer.

Two year ago after putting on a great show under the eyes of NBA and European scouts at the junior Euroleague Final Four (the same competition where Yaroslav Korolev came out of nowhere to earn his lottery selection at) Markota was considered a potential lottery pickl by many NBA scouts. Since then his draft stock has taken a big hit as he has struggled to live up to the expectations he created for himself quick enough, to the point that if he would have entered the draft this past year he probably would have been a 2nd pick at best. Today Markota seems to be back on his way to the first round, where based on his potential and tremendous athletic ability he should be. Markota was an early entry candidate back in the 2004 draft, but decided to withdrawn his when he couldn’t get a first round promise.

The first round is what he’ll be seeking once again. In order to get there, Markota needs to have a breakout year and show development in the crucial aspects of his game described above. Being super athletic with a nice jump shot is no longer enough to get European teenagers into the first round anymore. If there is anything we’ve learned from the draft a few months ago, it’s that NBA scouts and executives want to some of that potential turn into actual ability first while playing against grown men. Markota (along with all the other internationals) will have to have a productive season for his team to be taken seriously in the 2006 draft.
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The Adriatic League's Final Eight
May 3, 2005
Markota (previously known as Omerhodzic) played some good minutes. He grabbed some offensive rebounds and showed off his very good athletic ability. He was running up and down the court very well for a 6-10 player and was not liability on the defensive end. That is pretty much it from what he was able to show in this tournament in such limited minutes, but we've seen enough of him this year to know that there is more. There are no plays set up for him at Cibona and generally his role on offense is limited to setting screens, rebounding and occasionally attempting a 3 pointer. He should get more playing time and a bigger role next season, but I have my doubts since his club Cibona doesn't have a good reputation for developing young and raw players like Markota. He is not expected to even test waters this year, but if he improves next season and is given a chance to produce he could be a surefire first round pick due to his physical attributes.
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Top NBA Prospects in the Adriatic League
April 11, 2005
Last season Markota played mostly in garbage time, but this season after starting off slowly he became part of his team's regular rotation while playing in almost all games and starting in many of them, even in the Euroleague. Expect him to get even more PT next year. Damir showed off his excellent athleticism and the nice range he has on his jumper a few times this season. His best game of the season was in the Euroleague against arch-rivals Partizan, when he led Cibona to victory with 13 points and 5 rebounds. Markota still hasn't improved significantly enough in some key areas that he is lacking in: he is still a defensive liability and he can't play with his back to the basket. He is more of a SF for the NBA, because of his great athletic abilities and very good shooting skills, but this season coach Anzulovic (who is actually very pleased with his progress and attitude) didn't even try to use him at his natural spot, although Damir has indicated that he does not mind playing PF for his team, another sign of his improved maturity. He desperately needs to put some pounds on his frame to be effective in the post. Markota has as much potential as anyone in this league, except Aleksandrov, but we are still waiting for his breakout season, which could very well come next season. Most likely he will not declare for this year's draft, as he is in an excellent situation and all sides appear to be very content with his progress. As of right now Markota is in the status of a 2nd round sleeper, but as he continues to improve he could become a lock for the first round.
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