|Team: NON-NBA College Team: PAOK|
H: 6' 8"|
W: 198 lbs
(29 Years Old)
|Agent: Misko Raznatovic ||
Hometown: Novi Sad, Serbia
Best Case: Luke Walton
Worst Case: Francisco Garcia
Year after year, Milenko Tepic continues to improve. Going into his third Euroleague season, and seventh professional campaign overall (despite being just 21 years old), he's finally taken over the reigns as his team's go-to guy, following the departures of the highly productive Milt Palacio, Dusan Kecman and Nikola Pekovic.
Although Partizan is as young and inexperienced a club as you'll find in this Euroleague, they currently are in second place in their group (tied with Efes Pilsen and ahead of deeper and much richer clubs such as Real Madrid, Armani Jeans Milano and Panionios), while still standing undefeated (6-0) and in first place in the local Adriatic League.
The biggest reason for that has clearly been the play of Milenko Tepic. The 6-8 versatile swingman spends heavy minutes as his team's defacto point guard, and has been stuffing the stat-sheet in virtually every game he's played thus far. Tepic's team fell behind by 22 points this week in the Euroleague at home against Milan, but managed to rally to victory in large part thanks to his 11 point, 8 assist, 6 rebound performance. Tepic currently ranks sixth in the Euroleague in assists with 4.7 per game, and sports a sparkling 7 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.
The biggest key to Tepic's improvement over the past few seasons has been the improvement he's shown in his perimeter shot. He's more than doubled his rate of makes thus far (he's 18/44 or 41% in 9 games thus far this season) while maintaining a steady accuracy rate. His jumper is not the prettiest shot you'll find in Europe, mostly flat-footed, lacking some arc, and still streaky off the dribble, but he's become very reliable with his feet set, which is key considering how good his shot-selection is.
Tepic's biggest appeal as a prospect has to do with the under control nature in which he plays, along with the versatility he brings to the table. He is extremely patient and unselfish, always staying within his limitations, rarely making mistakes, and never looking to be in a rush. He executes Partizan's extremely methodical half-court offense impeccably, doing a great job making the extra pass and finding the open man, which is how he racks up most of his assistsóin simple fashion. The fact that he's 6-8 gives him a great advantage in this area.
Tepic has improved as a ball-handler over the past few seasons as well, to the point that he looks much more comfortable bringing the ball up the floor and taking his man off the dribble as well, using both hands effectively and doing a great job reading the defense and finding open seams. His first step is pretty underwhelming, and he often lacks the explosiveness to finish around the basket, but he's extremely under control with his drives and really knows how to find open shooters spotting up on the wing off the dribble.
Defensively, Tepic has some clear strengths and weaknesses. One on hand, he plays extremely hard, has great timing, is very fundamentally sound, and really understands the scouting report, but on the other, he lacks a significant amount of lateral quickness, and often looks very upright in his stance, which makes it quite easy for very athletic wing players to beat him off the dribble at times. Tepic is an outstanding team defender, but is just average in man to man, which will raise some question marks in the eyes of NBA talent evaluators since he's already lacking in some other areas.
Unlike a Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez or even a Nicolas Batum, Tepic is rarely going to blow you away with anything he does on the court, as he's quite a conservative player. At at the end of the day, though, his style of play is highly effective and very much conducive to winning games. He looks far better suited for playing European basketball, and would probably only be able to thrive in certain systems in the NBA, such as San Antonio, Utah, Boston or other slower paced, defensive oriented teams. With that said, there is definitely some appeal in a highly intelligent 6-8 swingman who can shoot, pass, not make mistakes and compete on every possession defensively.
Similar to his teammate from last season Nikola Pekovic, Tepic does not look to be as enamored with the idea of playing in the NBA as some of his European counterparts. According to sources, he's likely to follow Pekovic's lead and sign a large multi-year year contract with a European powerhouse before the draft, with an NBA option after two years. He will very likely not be coming to the States for private workouts, and will heavily attempt to discourage teams from considering him in the late first round, as he will need the flexibility of a second round contract (without the restrictions of the rookie scale) and a significant financial investment on the part of the team drafting him down the road if he's ever to make it over the Atlantic.
The all-around Serbian guard was supposed to emerge as the main catalyst for Partizan, an important offensive generator and decision maker for his team. But despite a good start of the season, Tepic didnít completely meet expectations, although it was a step forward from last seasonís performance.
Virtually a playmaker in the body of a wing player, the natural evolution of his game leads him to become a primary ball-handler and distributor for his team. However, we saw a tentative player, sometimes setting his teammates up for easy baskets, but other times generating more doubts than scoring opportunities. He himself struggled to score consistently, as his perimeter stroke, albeit improved, still lacks some reliability, while he didnít show up aggressive enough attacking the basket. Anyway, he did a good job as usual on defense.
Sooner or later, Tepicís time likely will come, and he should become an extremely valuable player on the European scene. Draft-wise, heís not the most NBA friendly player around, and for the moment lacks a true position. He could easily sneak into the second round, but we expect him to wait until heís automatically eligible.
While Milenko Tepic has not been quite as sensational as his teammate Nikola Pekovic, he is also having a very good season. The most important news regarding Tepic is his improved jumper. He has obviously worked on this part of his game, which has been considered a glaring weakness in the past, as is now showing smoother mechanics and more confidence in his shot. Tepic would usually shy away from taking a perimeter jump-shot, but he is now keen to shoot even when there is some defensive pressure.
Overall, Tepic is a guy that has a well rounded floor game. He is very versatile as a 6-8 starting shooting guard, while running the offense when former NBA journeyman Milt Palacio is on the bench. Standing somewhere between 6-7 and 6-8, Tepic has a good size for what probably would be his NBA position - Small Forward. He is a well built wing player with strong legs, while his upper body could probably use some time in the weight room. Tepic is a sound athlete by European standards, whose athleticism would probably be considered slightly below average in the NBA. He has solid quickness, but is not explosive either vertically or in terms of his first step.
Tepic is a proven defender who usually takes care of the opponentís most dangerous perimeter scorer. He has good lateral quickness and understanding of what he has to do on the defensive end. He does a good job defending pick and rolls, going through screens while showing good intensity. Tepic uses his size to challenge shots and make it tough to shoot over him. He has been earning his minutes with his work on this end of the floor for some time now, while his offensive game has slowly been coming along. Would Tepic be a lock down defender in the NBA? Certainly not, as NBA athletes are much harder to deal with, and he does have not top notch athletic ability himself, but with his size, anticipation and attitude, he should be very solid in this regard.
Milenko is a savvy and smart offensive player, who takes what the defense gives him. He rarely rushes a shot or makes a questionable decision, as he is very mature for his age. The stronger parts of his offensive game are his ball-handling and passing ability. Tepic has very good vision and is able to keep an offense in flow with timely passes and penetrations. He is not very quick, but his ball-handling ability and savvy enables him to create separation and get into the lane. Once in the paint, Tepic shows good finishing ability with both hands, and is adept at finding open teammates in traffic.
Tepic has shown tremendous leadership ability so far in this career, establishing himself as a reference point in the junior categories, and winning a bunch of medals on the way. His character really shined through in a recent game versus Cibona when despite missing a three-pointer, turning the ball over and having his shot blocked (all) in crunch time, still came up with the game winning slashing drive in the waning moments of the game. His draft status will probably depend on how well he can shoot the rest of the way until he decides to enter the draft. If Tepic proves to be capable of knocking down open jump-shots, given his all around game and blue-collar attitude, he might get some serious looks in the later part of the first round, either in 2008 or 2009.
Milenko Tepic has been inconsistent in his rookie season at the Euroleague level so far, showing glimpses of potential, but also going through rough periods, especially with his shot. Overall, Tepic has been slightly disappointing in his effort, contributing less than anticipated, but he was still able to get quality minutes. Tepic is a very versatile player, being able to play and defend any of the perimeter positions. Coach Dusko Vujosevic used him primarily as a Point Guard this season, where Tepic showed good passing ability and distribution skills, keeping the offense in motion, and making solid decisions with the ball. However, his NBA future is on the wing, where he could develop into some kind of a Point Forward keeping in mind his pass-first mentality.
Tepic's impact on the game is often not showed in the boxscore. He is a very team oriented player, really unselfish and a very decent defender, with excellent potential on that end of the floor. The fact that he plays point guard at 6-8 tells you a bit about his very good lateral movement. Milenko is a good athlete possessing nice quickness and a long wingspan. He is a very intelligent player who has an excellent understanding of the game, seeing the court well and possessing good ball-handling ability. His biggest struggles come in putting the ball in the basket. Milenko has unorthodox shooting mechanics and hasn't been able to achieve any kind of consistency this season. Tepic also has a tendency to became too passive on the offensive end of the floor during some stretches where he doesn't really create opportunities the way a guard should.
Tepic has almost 3 years before he becomes draft eligible, and therefore plenty of time to develop his game, particularly his scoring ability. He has the size, athleticism and versatility NBA teams look for, however he will have to improve his shooting skills in order to not to be a liability on the offensive side of the ball. If he declares for the 2007 draft Tepic would most likely be a 2nd round choice, however he has enough tools to develop into a first round pick with time.
Itís been a very good season for Milenko Tepic so far. After leading Serbia and Montenegro to gold in the U-20 European Championship, heís introducing himself at the top European level while playing for Partizan in the Euroleague. Without any real spectacular performances, heís leaving many drops of his talent and shows nice consistency playing the game. Life is easier in the Adriatic League, and there he recorded a career-high 20 points this weekend, adding 3 rebounds and 2 assists while leading Partizan to a valuable victory against a tough and direct rival, FMP.
Coach Vujosevic is taking advantage of Tepicís terrific basketball IQ by playing him at the point guard position off the bench. Considering he stands 6-8, thatís quite an unusual situation. However, just reading his body language, seeing the way he brings the ball up the court, and analyzing how he distributes it while being pressured by his match-ups, he transmits the feeling that heís far from being a pure point guard. Still, he probably wonít end up playing there, and regardless, it comes to show his excellent versatility. Tepic had always distinguished himself with his slashing abilities, taking advantage of his explosive athleticism. As he grew older, and the competition grew tougher, that explosiveness doesnít look as effective, even if his nice athleticism is still there (heís more of a fluid guy now). But heís certainly improved in other areas of his game.
Tepic still can beat his defender off the dribble on a regular basis, but not as easily as before. Now he relies a little bit more on his ball-handling and footwork. Besides, he has gained remarkable creativeness playing off the dribble, emerging as a great decision maker. Heís also a very reliable defender who shows nice lateral quickness and solid activity using his hands. Perimeter shooting is still his primary flaw, although he also has improved there. Actually, this weekendís unique performance was possible thanks to his shooting accuracy, netting 4 out of 5 three-pointers. If he can add consistency here, he would likely become clear-cut first-round material.
If Aleksandrov was the leader of this outstanding Serbian generation in 2003, and Labovic stepped up and earned MVP honours in 2005, now itís arguably Tepic who leads the crop and seems to realistically enjoy the most promising future. Actually, heís one of the most solid promises out of a Serbian pool that seems to be disappointing lately to some extent when it comes to producing star caliber players.
One of the best players of his 1987-age group, Tepic was leader of the Under-20 Serbian National team that won the gold this summer, and is a now regular part of Partizanís starting lineup after being brought over from Vojvodina. Milenko is one of most versatile players in the Adriatic league, being capable of doing virtually anything on the court.
Tepic has intriguing potential - being 6-8 with nice athleticism and the ability to play all perimeter positions. He has a good first step and solid leaping ability, but his biggest strength relies probably in his lateral quickness, since he is able to cover all perimeter matchups at his size. Considering his length, athleticism and work ethic, Milenko has the upside to become a lockdown defender at the European level at the very least.
He is very team oriented player, doing all the little things that doesnít show up on the boxscore, but are much appreciated by a coach and teammates. Tepic plays as a PG for the most part, since Partizan is not satisfied with the performance of former Golden State Warrior Vonteego Cummings. As a playmaker Tepic shows good distribution and passing skills, always looking for his teammates first and foremost. He is very unselfish, to a fault at times, finishing by himself only when there is no other available option. Tepicís shooting ability has improved some, but he is still not very confident in his perimeter stroke. There is a good reason for that, as heís shooting a terrible 26% from the field and 18% from behind the 3 point line in the Adriatic league so far.
Tepic is an excellent rebounder for his position, crashing the glass on both sides of the court. He is also a very intelligent player, always making the right choice and showing impressive calm and patience for a youngster.
Entering his rookie Euroleague season, Tepic will be counted on for heavy minutes in the backcourt. It will be interesting to see how he fares defensively against some of most dangerous scorers in Europe, and whether heíll be able to find the balance between passing and scoring himself.
Tepic emerged as the virtual leader of the Serbian team, delivering an exhibition of consistency and good decision making. His presence on court was always felt on his teamís offense, which looked much more fluid and effective with him in the game. Actually, he was probably the best distributor despite playing on the wing. He successfully used his nice athleticism to create offense, beating his matchups regularly off the dribble, just to dish the ball or look for the basket himself. His perimeter shot looked more accurate than in past occasions, notching even some off-the-dribble three-pointers. He gave a hand in the rebounding department and did fine work on defense, as usual. A smart guy, with the size, the athleticism, and some nice skills, he certainly has very interesting potential. For the moment, he has moved from Vojvodina to Partizan, where he will play in the Euroleague next season.[Read Full Article]
Coming off a good performance with Serbia & Montenegro at the European Junior Championships, Tepic enjoyed big minutes with a solid Vojvodina squad in his rookie Adriatic season, showing potential to possibly develop into a first round pick down the road. As you can expect from a 19-year-old, Tepic was inconsistent from time to time, playing some brilliant games, like against Cibona when he lead Vojvodina to victory in Zagreb with 17 points, 6 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds, while being silent in others, for example scoring just 2 points in 33 minutes against Siroki. Milenko always impressed by playing with maturity, poise and tenacity beyond his years in his first full season with the senior team, though.
He has a nice combination of size and athleticism, standing at 6-7 (200cm) and moving rather quickly both horizontally and vertically. From a physical point of view, Tepic has the necessary gifts to be a successful NBA player in the future. He is looking more for his teammates than himself to score, partially because he is team-oriented and unselfish and partially because scoring isnít one of his biggest strengths at the moment. Tepic can create scoring opportunities with his above average ball-handling skills and good first step, while also passing the ball very well either from static positions or on the move, but the main reason why he got so much playing time was his defense. Tepic was the best perimeter defender on his team, presenting tenacity and attitude to go along with his length and athleticism, indeed making him one of best defensive players in the league.
Currently his biggest weakness is his shooting, as he doesnít show great touch outside 15 feet, making him quite a predictable offensive player. His percentage from downtown is not bad, but most of his 47 attempts (1.95 per game) were wide-open looks, since defenders often leave him more space to shoot from long distance knowing that he usually cannot convert at a good clip. Confirmation of his poor shooting mechanics comes at the free throw line, where he converts just 58% of his attempts.
A good game (16 pts, 4 assists) at the recent Nike Hoop Summit certainly helped scouts to take notice of him. While he might not have what we call "star upside", Tepic has all the tools to become a nice role player for an NBA team down the road. Working on his shot is a priority for Tepic, who has three more years of draft eligibility. If he develops as expected, Milenko could get some serious looks in bottom half of the first round when he decides to declare.
[Read Full Article]
Question: What was it like going against some of the top American players?
Milenko Tepic: Coach almost said everything, but for us, this was a big experience, big week. We went to some NBA games, we practiceed and worked out together. Coach said that came from many different countries, and that is strange, you know. In my country for instance we donít play the same kind of basketball as Sene or somebody else play, and itís a hard thing to in one week make us together to be a team. We tried to do our best, and I hope we learned something in this game and in this week that we can be using in our future. Those players are very good, they made a lot of hard shots. This was a tough game and a good experience.
Tepic displayed a nice ability to pass and handle the ball throughout the week. Though he didnít really create too many shots for himself during the Hoops Summit, he made some very creative finishes inside, and even had a nice dunk in traffic. Tepic also played solid defense, and has good athleticism that he uses on both ends of the floor. He didnít take any shots outside of 15 feet during the game, and his perimeter shot was streaky during the practice sessions. Tepic is able to use his ball handling abilities to create for teammates as well, and made a few really nice dishes inside the lane. He seemed quite content with the running style that the U.S. team wanted to employ. Tepic possesses ideal size for an NBA shooting guard, with nice athleticism as well. Though he could add weight, he has a nice frame to work with. If he can work to improve his perimeter shot, Tepic could become a solid NBA rotation player at the very least.[Read Full Article]
Just like two years ago in Rivas, at the Cadet stage, Tepic emerged again as a key player for Serbia and Montenegro, being the player who spent the most time on court for his team. However, just as his teammate Mijatovic, he hasnít shown too much evolution in his game during this time. Tepic is a very good athlete (although he doesnít stand out as much as before) from the wing that excels slashing towards the basket. Indeed, I think we can easily say that he was the purest slasher of the tournament. But offensively thereís not much more to tell beyond that.
His main weapons for the penetration are a very quick first step and great footwork to move in traffic, making it hard to keep him out of the lane, while he has a soft touch to get the work done near the basket. He does feature quite an interesting skill, having the ability to create his own shot. He fakes a penetration, taking advantage of the chaos it creates for his rivals, easily gaining enough space to shoot with a simple backwards movement separating himself from his unbalanced defender. However, these shots didnít look consistent at all. Tepic feels much more comfortable in static situations, enjoying three-point range, although his accuracy is still improvable.
Milenko is a clear example of a finisher, a player with serious skills to put the ball in the hole and little team creativity. Thatís something you miss in his game, more passing skills, more versatility. Nevertheless, heís far from being a me-first player, as he usually waits for a good option to score, not forcing situations or abusing his ball-handling skills.
Tepic is serious about the game, and that notion is supported on both ends of the court. Heís a very reliable defender that takes advantage of his athleticism, and indeed was assigned many times assigned to the most dangerous perimeter rival.
Contrary to what is usually the case with most other European players, Tepicís potential seems much more limited by his skills rather than by his athletic gifts. Better shooting and more versatility in general would be really useful for him in order to be considered a top prospect.