The 6-foot-11 Serbian averaged 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 blocks in the U19 World Cup.
The Miami Heat have selected Nikola Jovic with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. He averaged 12.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 0.7 steals, shooting 41.4 percent from the floor, 31.5 percent from 3-point range and 71.8 percent last season in the Adriatic League (Serbia), winning the league’s Young Player of the Year award.
— Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) June 24, 2022
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 24, 2022
Jovic, who just turned 19 in June, was one of the top prospects available, along with EJ Liddell (Ohio State), TyTy Washington (Kentucky) and Jaden Hardy (G-League Ignite), among others.
The Heat had a need at the power forward position heading into the offseason with Markieff Morris’ impending free agency along with P.J. Tucker opting out of his $7.5 million player option, even though some expect Tucker to return.
In the U19 World Cup, Jovic made the All-Tournament team — posting 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, shooting 49 percent from the floor, 36.4 percent (12-33) from 3-point range and 65.2 percent from the charity stripe in seven contests.
Can’t help but be enticed on what 6-11 Serbian Nikola Jovic can bring, assuming Miami keeps its 27th pick in the #NBADraft
He plays physical, he can handle in PNR, moves off the ball, he defends, he can hit the outside shot, and he’s both aggressive/explosive attacking the rim pic.twitter.com/j6BgLTk4Wb
— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) June 24, 2022
What others are saying about him?
Of all the international prospects in this draft, Jovic has the most seamless NBA fit as a modern forward who can shoot, handle and pass. Every bit of 6-10 with an improved 215-pound frame and a 7-0 wingspan, Jovic’s measurements are similar to forwards ranging from Michael Porter Jr. to Kevin Knox to Sam Dekker to Darius Bazley. With the size to function as a four once his body matures, the late-blooming Jovic looks the part of a legitimate NBA floor-spacer with the shooting stroke to back it up, as he’s now up to 40% from the international line through 14 games, often earning comparisons to Nemanja Bjelica (drafted No. 35 in 2010) in the process.
But what makes Jovic a bit more intriguing than your typical catch-and-shoot forward is the potential he shows off the dribble, regularly bringing the ball up the floor for Mega Mozzart, displaying sharp pick-and-roll vision going to his right while also knocking down several deep hesitation pull-up 3s with bigs switched onto him. His high center of gravity with the ball and finishing struggles in traffic (46% at the rim) limit him as a primary shot creator. And teams have also found quite a bit of success just defending him with small guards and daring him to punish that mismatch on the low block, which he hasn’t done with much success. But because Jovic can make hesitation and step-back 3s, find his teammates on the move when willing and occasionally drop in Dirk-like fallaways from inside the arc, it’s not out of the question that, in time, he can eventually evolve into a Danilo Gallinari-style second or third creator who can function as a big wing or a mismatch four.
To earn those reps, Jovic will have to improve drastically on defense, as he’s a bit too upright to consistently stay with perimeter players yet not quite physical enough to bang with true bigs on the interior. Evolving his off-ball defense and stabilizing his often-fluctuating motor will really help him win the margins, as he’s likely never going to quite have the range or flexibility to be a 1-on-1 stopper.
From a size and skill perspective, Jovic is one of the more interesting projects in the draft, with legitimate perimeter functionality and a nice shooting stroke. The big concern here is he’s not particularly athletic, with slow feet and a lack of explosiveness that will make for a challenging adjustment to the NBA. There’s still developmental appeal here, as he is a terrific passer, can shoot off the dribble and has the feel and handle to compensate for some of what he lacks physically. But he doesn’t have much history of efficiency and isn’t likely to make much of an impact on defense. Jovic likely has to improve in those two areas to stay on the floor, but skilled players his size aren’t always easy to find. He’s an interesting investment wherever he comes off the board.
Jovic is a big with great touch and feel for the game. In a draft devoid of major high-end international talent, Jovic may be the best of the bunch. He’s got a refined skill set and at his best, Jovic will leave you wondering why he’s not a lottery prospect.
Nikola Jokic was drafted in the middle of a Taco Bell commercial and he won MVP
So to help Nikola Jovic we did this pic.twitter.com/THTxNC9sCd
— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 24, 2022
Nikola Jo ić ✘ Nikola Jo ić
The Heat select the 6’10” Serbian forward with the 27th pick! pic.twitter.com/8RD26oopWq
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 24, 2022
— BasketballNews.com (@basketbllnews) June 24, 2022
I wonder how Markieff Morris feels having Nikola Jovic on the team.
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) June 24, 2022
Jovic can shoot. There’s that.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 24, 2022
Nikola Jovic had as much upside as anyone left on the board. He makes sense as a floor spacer next to Bam who can also make plays. Good touch passer and can handle the ball.
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) June 24, 2022
I absolutely LOVE the Nikola Jovic pick for the Miami Heat.
Size and shooting. This is definitely worth keeping the No. 27 pick.
— Austin Konenski (@Austin_Kone05) June 24, 2022
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.