UTAH JAZZ

Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Aleksej Pokusevski

Nov 6, 2020, 2:20 PM | Updated: Nov 12, 2020, 11:21 am

Euroleague Arena (Photo by Handout/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)...

Euroleague Arena (Photo by Handout/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

(Photo by Handout/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As the NBA Draft draws nearer, one thing is for certain, we don’t know who will be on the board for the Utah Jazz with the 23rd overall pick. One mock draft may project a player to get drafted in the top 10. Meanwhile, another outlet may have that player dropping to the mid-20s. Such is the case for Serbian big man Aleksej Pokusevski, one of the draft’s most polarizing players.

In our earlier European prospects preview, we opted to skip on evaluating Pokusevski as he was largely projected to be drafted well ahead of the Jazz pick. Now, more outlets seem to believe he could be on the board when the Jazz are draft. As a result, we’re adding his profile to our database.

Aleksej Pokusevski: 7’0, 201 lbs Big – Olympiacos B

9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 40% FG/32% 3p/78% FT

Pros:

Aleksej Pokusevski is an extremely intriguing European draft prospect due to his elite measurables and athletic fluidity. Seven footers with Pokusevski’s ability to run the floor, change direction, and handle the ball with such control are a rare breed.

The Serbian big man moves like a modern small forward despite having measurables comparable to those of Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo. There simply aren’t many humans who have that combination of size and mobility on the planet.

Increasing Pokusevski’s stock is the fact that he already shows an above-average feel for the game. Unlike some unicorn bodies found in remote gyms, Pokusevski has been around the game of basketball honing his skills.

The big man showed promise as both a scorer and playmaker, using his handle to get to the rim, pull up with touch, or find open teammates after drawing in defenders.

Additionally, the Serbian possesses an impressive 7’3 wingspan, allowing him to function as a weakside shot blocker and an effective closeout defender on perimeter shooters.

Cons:

Despite his elite physical tools, Pokusevski is unproven against upper-echelon competition. Having played with Olympiacos B, Pokusevski doesn’t have the same proven pro career as other draft eligible players like Leandro Bolmaro or Theo Maledon.

The Serbian has a fluid shot release, but the results aren’t necessarily pretty. Pokusevski connected on just 32 percent of his three-point attempts last season which is not miserable, but far from elite. To truly unlock his offensive potential he’ll have to prove he’s a consistent threat from the three-point line, and that remains a work in progress.

Before he’ll be able to play significant minutes in the NBA Pokusevksi will have to put significant work into his body. Weighing just over 200 lbs, the Serbian will get pushed around by smaller forwards on both sides of the ball and won’t be able to defend bigger players beyond weak-side shot-blocking.

The team that drafts Pokusevski won’t get an immediate contributor and will have to be patient as his game and body develop.

How Would Pokusevski Fit With The Jazz In The Draft?

With a strong starting lineup and a group of young stars entering their prime, the Jazz could justify taking a swing on a first-round draft pick with high upside like Pokusevski. The odds of finding a player who steps in and contributes right away with the 23rd pick are slim, so drafting a player that might add the most to the roster a few years down the line is a fine strategy.

Though Bojan Bogdanovic has shown terrific durability throughout his career, his eventual decline could fit nicely alongside Poksevski’s development as his eventual successor with a similar offensive skillset.

Of the players that could be available late in the first round when the Jazz are selecting, Pokusevski has the unique combination of size and skill that could turn into a franchise piece if the front office is patient with his development. That same model has paid dividends for Rudy Gobert, and could potentially be replicated over the next few years.

However, having traded away last year’s first-round pick, and owing Memphis next year’s first-rounder, drafting a player that likely won’t offer immediate help leaves the Jazz with a lack of young contributors on the roster.

Having those young pieces on cost-controlled contracts alleviates the salary cap jam that occurs when paying stars max level contracts on contending teams. As both Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are up for high priced extensions, finding a player that can play reliable minutes over the next few seasons may have more value than taking a risk on a player with Pokusevski’s upside.

Additional Prospect Breakdowns:

Draft Prospects: Tyrese Maxey

Draft Prospects: Robert Woodard

Draft Prospects: European Options

Draft Prospects: Kira Lewis

Draft Prospects: Desmond Bane

Draft Prospects: Jalen Smith

Draft Prospects: Xavier Tillman

Draft Prospects: Sam Merrill

Draft Prospects: Yoeli Childs

Draft Prospects: Tre Jones

Draft Prospects: Tyler Bey

Draft Prospects: Tyrell Terry

Draft Prospects: Arizona Freshmen Trio

Draft Prospects: Isaiah Stewart

Draft Prospects: Jaden McDaniels

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz forward Taylor Hendricks...

Ben Anderson

Taylor Hendricks Thrives In Jazz Win Over Raptors

Taylor Hendricks had the best performance of his basketball career against the Toronto Raptors scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

17 hours ago

Utah Jazz Houston Rockets Taylor Hendricks...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Are Jazz Good At Developing Players?

Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

2 days ago

Utah Jazz rookie Kyle Filipowski...

Ben Anderson

Kings Embarrass Jazz In Second Vegas Summer League Game

The entire Utah Jazz roster struggled in game two of the Vegas Summer League as they were drubbed by the Sacramento Kings 82-70.

3 days ago

Utah Jazz Sumer League Brice Sensabaugh finger injury...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Forward Brice Sensabaugh Suffers Torn Finger Tendon

Brice Sensabaugh will miss the rest of the Vegas Summer League after suffering a torn extensor tendon tear in his left middle finger.

3 days ago

Utah Jazz rookie Cody Williams at the Summer League...

Ben Anderson

Jazz Rookies Shine In First Vegas Summer League Game

The Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks to open the Vegas Summer League behind breakout performances from Cody Williams and Kyle Filipowski.

5 days ago

Utah Jazz In-Season Tournament Court...

Ben Anderson

Jazz Learn In-Season Tournament Grouping For 2024-25 Season

The Utah Jazz learned their grouping for the second-annual NBA In-Season Tournament ahead of the 2024-25 season.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Aleksej Pokusevski