21 year old 6’11, 225 pound center out of Serbia
Averaged 21.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on 56.3% fg, 46.2% 3, 71.4% ft
Filip Petrušev was a prospect I actually evaluated last year. After a solid season with Gonzaga I considered him to be someone who was an undrafted free agency player but he decided to go overseas and that choice propelled his draft stock dramatically.
The biggest difference between Filip in Gonzaga and him in Serbia was his ability to stretch the floor. As I noted last year his shot from outside was something that showed flashes but was not fully there quite yet. In 2020 he shot 0.3 threes per game on 18.2% but in 2021 he was able to shoot 2.9 threes per game on 46.2%, a groundbreaking level of improvement. He has a very smooth form that he gets off comfortably and confidently. As the importance of floor spacing big men has continued to grow year by year that skill is vitale. With him being able to stretch the floor that allows teams to run 5 out without going small. His play out of the pick-and-pop became a real speciality for him throughout his season with Mega Bemax. Alongside a playmaking point guard that could be a really dangerous play, I think of the fit of him playing in New Orleans when they run the point Zion lineups and I am salivating over that. We were also able to see his face up game expand which was one of my biggest critiques of him with the Bulldogs but he started to show off an intriguing ability to rise over players in the midrange. One of Petrušev’s biggest strengths carried over and got refined to be even better, that skill being his impressive finishing. A skill that surprised me a lot was how he started to show off an ability to take bigs off the dribble. The threat he has in the pick-and-pop allowed him to attack overaggressive closeouts. He continued to impress out of the pick-n-roll where his strong screen setting relieved the pressure off his guard greatly. I was pleased by how he used his floater in the short roll as he was smart in evaluating when to roll hard to the hoop versus when to do a soft roll just outside the restricted area. He was great at setting a screen and exploding to the basket for finishes, some underrated burst right there. That post play he showed off in college continued to be a big strength of his overseas. When he got his man sealed down low he had elite footwork and patience to score in the post. Contact never fazed him due to how good he was at using his strength to bump off players and stay balanced. Passing was also an intriguing area as he made some impressive reads for a big man. He had a high level feel for how to locate shooters and cutters on the lock. There were also some great examples of him grabbing a rebound and making great outlet passes that led to fastbreaks. Defensively while he is not an elite rim protector, he makes up for that with his strength and IQ. Though drop coverage has lost its value in recent years he was effective in that type of scheme as he understood angles very well. While he may not be the ultra switchy defender we all love in the modern game he at least has the mobility to survive on the perimeter better than some of the stone feet big men we see. Around the basket while he is not a great rim protector he is a solid overall presence with his size. He has a good understanding of using leverage and verticality to defend without fouling. Post defense was his biggest strength on that side of the ball as he swallowed opponents' attempts often due to his core strength.
Many of Filip’s problems as a player simply come from his athleticism. While he may not have the slowest feet in the world, in a league all about versatility he will struggle against elite shot creators. When he is forced to guard quicker players he dares them to shoot which he will pay for much more in the NBA. Him being forced to close out was the biggest example of his lack of lateral quickness as he really struggled to transition into moving backwards after a hard closeout. Facing teams like the Clippers with their small ball lineups will be very similar to the problems we saw Rudy Gobert face. While he was solid around the basket defensively he lacks the vertical pop to be a real shot blocker. Him having a wingspan that is equal to his height hurts him as well because he cannot make up for his burst with length. The lack of leaping ability he has also hurts him offensively as he will not be much of a lob threat by any means. While I am excited by his playmaking I definitely want to see it be a bigger aspect of his game as he did not get as many opportunities as I would have wanted. Though Filip has a lot of skill there is a clear cap to his potential based off of things that he simply cannot control.
What I Rate Him As A Prospect
Where He Fits Best
New Orleans Pelicans: New Orleans needs someone who could space the floor alongside Zion at that center spot and getting a player like that in the second round would be a gem of a pick.
San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs love skilled and smart players which is what makes Filip the prospect he is. I like the idea of him being a backup center of the future for them.
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