As the NBA season get’s over the hump, I decided that it’s time to start speculating over who should demand a whole lot more money next year, and who you should keep an eye on if you’re a basketball fan. Maybe petition your local GM in a nice letter. Unless you’re a Raptors fan, then only petition our local GM to get the hell out of town. So, without further delay, the first profile. The Pek
If you’ve read my previous stuff, you’ll notice that I have a thing for European centers, a thing that sometimes borderlines on uncomfortable when my friends talk to me about basketball. But here is why Pek should be on every GM’s radar who’s in need of toughness in the post (and let’s face it, if your team is not the Timberwolves you’re lacking toughness in the post).
An anecdote, if you will: The other day I was walking down the street and saw Nicola Pekovic walking towards me on the sidewalk. I ran up to him to get an autograph. Unfortunately, it was not everyone’s favorite Timberwolves bruiser I saw, it was an 18-wheeler truck parked slightly on the sidewalk. I was upset, but also amazed of the uncanny resemblance.
Pek is a bruiser, plain and simple. He has that Perkins quality to him where he will put a body on anyone and anything if it helps his team win. I was watching the Wolves – Spurs game the other night, and saw him get fouled by Splitter. Then, I saw Splitter fall to the floor and clutch himself in pain. I am actually fairly confident that Pekovic killed a man with his bare hands at some point of his life, probably at a manly age of 12. You just don’t mess with him. The man is built like a result of an overly successful genetic experiment.
But what else makes him special, beyond his rugged Eastern European looks and that old-school NBA mentality I seem to love so much? It’s the fact that the man can straight up play. Playing under the radar for the past few years on the injury riddled story of missed potential that is the Timberwolves he has consistently been the standout.
He has been the consistent bright spot during the injury riddled season of season for Minnesota. He’s averaging a solid 15.8PPG, 8.7RPG and shooting at a steady clip of 51% from the field. On top of that, he’s only pushing 1.7 turnovers per game which is really good for players who have the ball on the block a lot. Statistically, he’s right up there with some of NBA’s elite centers. You’re also looking at a big man who’s knocking down free throws at a steady 74%, and for a big man, that’s pretty impressive.
He is confident on the block, has a great array of post moves, and when he puts a body on your big man, your big man won’t breathe normally for 2-3 days after. Sure, he got sonned by Harrison Barnes early on this year, but even Kendrick Perkins get’s caught every once in a while.
His size is obviously one of the main things that makes him attractive to teams wishing to add toughness in the paint. Despite being a bruiser however, he is incredibly quick on his feet and skilled in the post. He also does things like these from time to time. I wasn’t convinced either, but then I saw him d-up Tony Parker. Let me repeat that, the 6’11, 290lbs (!!) big man, played solid defence on Tony Parker. The man so quick on his feet, he even gave Eva the slip.
There are plenty of small things to like about him, and teams are starting to notice. He could be a primary post option for teams because of his toughness. One thing he needs to improve is his midrange game, but with quick feet and a very savvy game-brain Pek is sure to get a good contract this year.
My prediction for where he will end up: A mid to high playoff team that needs post-presence and toughness inside.
Portland would be a great fit for him to take all the inside pressure off LaMarcus Aldrdige. Hickson is a good fit, but he is undersized and is not a permanent solution for the Blazers.
Denver would also be perfect once they’re willing to give up on he Javale experiment.
The main question is: how much money he’ll need.