2015 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Mario Hezonja

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Prospect Weaknessses: 

Like every prospect who displays bravado and swagger, one is going to have to take the good with the bad. For as much as Hezonja’s self-confidence helped him get on the radar of NBA scouts, it has probably magnified some of his shortcomings. One can look no further than the NBA Finals for a case study of this concept. Steph Curry seems almost teflon to criticism, because he’s humble and low-key. LeBron James is doing things no other individual has ever done in a Finals and his still dealing with criticism. It comes with the territory.

It is worth factoring in Hezonja’s somewhat limited usage rate with Barcelona as a factor that might lead to some of these pride-related issues in his game. That being said, one cannot overlook anything when discussing a potential top-five pick. Especially considering that teams won’t have the opportunity to bring Hezonja in for the extensive workouts and interviews that other prospects will have attended by Draft Day, Hezonja’s personal profile may be the biggest determining factor for where he is selected.

As far as what problems these types of hangups lead to with Hezonja’s game, NBADraft.net provided a strong analysis.

"Despite his improved shot selection, he still tends to look for his shot instead of finding an open man when the defense is good, even though he has solid passing skills … His off the ball defense is not effective enough, since he lacks focus and positioning, furthermore he tends to be too aggressive in the closeouts leading to useless fouls … This could be considered his breakout season concerning his performances, but the consistency is still a sticky point, especially from one game to the next … He has worked a lot on his temper, but his fiery nature and cocky attitude is still his trademark, and can get him in trouble at times …"

For as many players who have flamed out in the NBA due to lack of confidence, a league as competitive as it is also tends to chew up and spit out those who let their cockiness define them. Hezonja is only 20 years old, so one would figure he’ll have every opportunity to shed this reputation. That said, he also is about to receive millions of dollars in a foreign country where he’ll likely be treated like a celebrity by people who have never even heard of him. High-profile NBA players are often forced to grow up, quickly.

Rappaport also addressed a few other areas of Hezonja’s game that might be a cause for concern.

"Still needs to work on his midrange game, but has the tools to be effective there in time… Not much of an on- or off-ball defender at this stage despite his athleticism and size… Can force shots at times… Ballhandling could still use work"

Especially were the Sixers to draft Hezonja, he would have to commit to the defensive end for coach Brett Brown who has declared on multiple occasions that he prefers a team predicated on that end of the floor.

Another area of Hezonja’s game that is Sixers-specific is how he would handle being a secondary option. In a perfect world, Joel Embiid will be the focal point of the Sixers offensive gameplay. Mario Hezonja will be going from one team where he isn’t a primary scoring option, to another where he will most likely be a second fiddle. Though ultimately he might be better served learning to reap the benefits of a bonafide big man with the ability to distribute and draw defenders, it will test Hezonja to take a backseat to another player if he is drafted 3rd overall.