2015 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Mario Hezonja

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With the draft’s top point guards having already had their respective profiles broken down (D’Angelo Russell link) (Emmanuel Mudiay link), our Section215.com series of scouting reports shifts to the wing position and perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the class: FC Barcelona’s Mario Hezonja. The Croatian product has emerged, along with Kristaps Porzingis, as the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to European-based draft prospects.

Sam Hinkie and the Sixers have shown no reluctance in both scouting and drafting foreign players. If there is any team picking towards the top of the 2015 NBA Draft, Philadelphia would figure to have as much to go off of in terms of scouting resources as anyone else potentially in a position to take Hezonja.

Given the explosion of exposure that international basketball has received in recent years, thanks in large part to social media and transatlantic streaming services, the comfort level in drafting those individuals participating in those leagues seems to have risen along with it. Last year, Dario Saric would have been a much higher selection were it not for the complex nature of his contract with the Turkish team Anadolu Efes. The year before, Giannis Antetokounmpo was plucked from Greece’s professional league by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 15th overall pick. Basketball is an international game and the rest of the world is starting to yield the types of athletes and prospects that, for the longest time, were seen to only emerge from the college ranks.

Like Antetokounmpo, Mario Hezonja will have to find a way to translate his natural skills and athleticism to a skill-set that fits the NBA game. Though he doesn’t necessarily possess the freakish measurables that have earned the Bucks young superstar his nickname, there are areas of Hezonja’s game that he is already more advanced in than the ‘Greek Freak’. The NBA is a wing-dominated league and finding a prolific one is nearly as difficult as identifying a world-class big man.

Hezonja’s potential is such that he might project to be more of a ‘superstar’ than anyone in the class not named Karl-Anthony Towns. That being said, he also might have a much lower floor than some of the other prospects projected to go towards the top of the draft. When you talk about ‘boom-or-bust’ prospects, Mario Hezonja may be the most fitting of that distinction as far as the 2015 class goes.

It’s worth noting that the Sixers front office has already established itself as a contingency that drafts the best-player-available. If there’s any individual in a position of power who will make a ‘controversial’ selection in the sense that it strays from that conventional wisdom, it’s Sam Hinkie. He is very much an executive who puts in the work as far as traveling and seeking out prospects from all corners of the world so that the limited access general managers receive of international prospects does not prevent him from making what he sees as an educated decision. We’ll break down as much as we can the factors at hand that Hinkie may be weighing if he’s debating taking Hezonja with the 3rd overall pick.

***Note: I am not a scout nor an analyst, this is just what I’ve gathered with my limited access as a  fan. By no means ‘expert’ analysis***