One of the most pleasant surprises and notable performers thus far in the Euroleague is Slovenian center Mirza Begic. Not long ago a marginal draft prospect -he actually went undrafted in 2007- hes developing into an extremely productive big man (averaging 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in 23 minutes in the Euroleague), showcasing the kind of back-to-the-basket skills that are so rare to find nowadays among big men.
Theres no wonder that Begics most intriguing abilities revolve around his low-post game. Begic takes advantage of his superb length, showing solid footwork, body control and consistently connecting on his hook shots (preferably with his right hand). Certainly not a hustler or a banger, he doesnt avoid contact down low, showing good hands to catch the ball, a good feel for the game, and decent quickness executing his moves. When you package all these abilities in a 7-3 body, you know hes going to do some serious damage.
Still fairly skinny, much of the progress he has enjoyed as of late is consequence of his body development, as he looks now visibly stronger, which allows him to take contact and operate much more comfortably around the basket. Besides, despite his great size he can get off the floor or run the court reasonably well, even if his limited quickness emerges as one of his shortcomings on the defensive end (the biggest one might be a certain degree of softness). Anyway, hes a solid rebounder, a fairly intimidating presence on the paint thanks to his length.
Well see how the season unfolds for Begic. Despite his Euroleague achievements, his performance at the Adriatic League appears to be significantly less consistent. Hes always carried a rep for being somewhat of an underachiever throughout his career, as he reportedly is not the most enthusiastic worker around, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his extremely hot start. Anyway, if he shows some solidity in his outings, chances are he wont be playing for Olimpija next season, as someone will throw significant money his way in the search for quality size on the paint. In fact, considering that his contract is up this summer, there is some talk that he may be bought out by a rich team in Spain or Russia this season already. And if he keeps developing, the NBA is not out of the question.