The Wizards acquired the draft rights to Emir Preldzic from the Cavaliers in the Antawn Jamison trade. Since then, Preldzic has been playing in Europe for the Turkish Euroleague team Fenerbahce Ulker. During the 2012-13 season, he played in 22 games, averaging 8.1 points (50.4% shooting, 33.3% from three, and 70.4% Free Throws), 1.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Emir Preldzic - Age 26. 6'9", 225 pounds. Drafted: Second Round in 2009
Projected NBA Position: SF/PF (point Forward?)
First I'd like to say that the Turkish team really doesn't have a Point Guard; and their Guards in general are not very good. They do however have some very good big men, including Omer Asik, Ersan Ilyasova, Hedo Turkoglu and Semi Erden; so it wasn't a big surprise when they frequently had Preldzic playing in the back court. It did surprise me how poorly the Turkish team performed in the two games I watched, given the front court talent on the team. Part of it had to do with the poor shooting performances of Ilyasova and Turkoglu - who couldn't hit a shot from the perimeter in either game. Against Finland, Ilyasova was 1-9 and Turkoglu was 2-12; and against Italy, Asik barely played (16 minutes) due to foul trouble; while Turkoglu looked like he has lost 6 steps on defense.
Emir Preldzic didn't play badly. So while he didn't shoot particularly well, I wanted to preface my impressions by noting how bad the team around him played. It's very difficult to play well when your team plays like crap.
So, on to my impressions.
Turkey vs Finland
Preldzic = 25 minutes, 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals - 2-9 shooting (22%), 1-6 threes (16.7%), 2-4 Free Throws (50%)
Turkey vs Italy
Preldzic = 25 minutes, 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists: 4-8 shooting (50%), 0-1 threes (0%), 1-4 Free Throws (25%)
Preldzic did not start either game, and entered the games late in the 1st quarter. His Coach seemed to have enough confidence in him to play him in crunch time, and even had him bring the ball up court and initiate the offense several times. In my opinion, he did it better than the Turkish guards.
He was frequently able to beat his defender off the dribble, going either right or left. It was once he got into the lane where I started to see some inexperience. If he kept his dribble alive, he was able to either get to the rim, or make a nice pass to a big man or a spot up shooter. It was when he left his feet in the lane that he got in trouble; and he did that several times in both games. He got into the air and either made a poor decision that resulted in a turn over, or got lucky and found a teammate (not in a position to score) to dump the ball off. Preldzic has terrific court vision, and as long as he doesn't put himself in a bad position (ie: in the air), he's able to make quick decisions with the ball and makes some excellent passes. Otherwise, he made some crisp cuts to the basket (where his guards were unable to get him the ball), moved well without the ball and kept the ball moving if it came to him.
As for his shooting, he looks much smoother than I remember him. I watched some EuroLeague games a couple years ago (when the trade was made, and the Wizards acquired his rights) - and remember him having a hitch in his mechanics, and he shot the ball off-balance frequently. His shooting stroke looks better, but his results are still streaky. Two of the 3-point shots he took were late in the shot clock, but he badly missed a wide open 3-pointer from the corner in the 4th quarter of the Finland game; a shot that he will most likely have to master if he wants to have an NBA career. He showed a nice right handed floater (he missed, but it looked good). He didn't finish well around the basket, being bothered by bigger players and not able to finish through even minor contact.
He seemed active and aware on defense - rotating well. For the most part, he was able to keep his man from driving and contested shots well. He's not particularly long, and looks to have average athleticism - yet he was still able to contest shots due to his height (6'9"). He was frequently matched up against Guards (either SG or PG) and mostly held his own on defense; except against very some of the very quick Guards. He was excellent in Pick-and-Roll defense, fighting through screens and not allowing his man to penetrate or get an open shot. He did have one bonehead play in the first half of the Finland game when he lost track of his man on an in-bounds play and his opponent scored an uncontested layup. - But otherwise, he seemed engaged and able to keep his head on a swivel. He made some nice plays defensively getting in the passing lanes. Showing very quick hands, he was able to steal the ball twice in a row from the opponent Point Guard late in the 4th quarter leading to 4 points during Turkey's ill fated come back against Finland. On the other hand, Marco Belinelli and one of the other quick Italian guards exposed Preldzic's (average for a Guard, good for a SF) lateral quickness - exploiting him for a couple drives into the paint; but when he played against the opposing SF or against slower Guards (Finland), I saw no lateral quickness problems.
- Good size for SF
- Energy/Activity level
- Good shooting mechanics
- Good rebounder, despite lack of strength/athleticism
- Moves well laterally (for a SF/PF)
- Terrific court vision
- Point Forward potential
- Excellent ball handling capabilities with either hand
- Needs to add strength
- Not an elite athlete
- Needs to improve consistency on jump shot
- Finishing ability around the basket
- No post up moves
Preldzic may not be ready to play in the NBA. He's an intelligent, skilled player that does not yet possess an NBA ready skill. If he can become more consistent with his jump shot, and extend his range to the NBA 3-point line, I could see him making an NBA roster. But until then, his ball handling and court vision are not enough; and at 26 years old, he may be running out of time.