The Orlando Magic selected Croatian wing Mario Hezonja with the No. 5 pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
Hezonja, a 6'7" swingman, played just 15.4 minutes per game this season but made the most of his limited action. He averaged 13.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per 36 minutes, while shooting 37.9% on three-pointers.
Mannix's analysis: I love Hezonja. He has star power written all over him. Much has been made of Hezonja’s shooting—and it’s a strength—but Hezonja is the total package. He can take it to the basket, he can finish at the rim; he wants to dunk on opponents. He will need to work on his ballhandling and his defense needs work, but Scott Skiles will get a lot of use out of a player with this kind of natural talent. Bottom line: He was the most talented player on the board.
Strengths: Hezonja might very well be the best shooter in this draft class. He has picture-perfect form, rising with great elevation and firing shots with an extremely fluid release. He has great size and tremendous athleticism for a wing player in today’s NBA as well. Hezonja is explosive off the dribble, using a quick first step to blow past defenders. And once he gets into the paint, he has the leaping ability and power to finish strong at the rim and challenge bigger defenders. An aggressive offensive player, he isn’t shy about putting his head down in pursuit to the rim. Very few players possess this combination of fundamental skill with sheer elite athleticism.
Weaknesses: While Hezonja can get to the rim off the bounce, his ball-handling still needs to be tightened. Working toward the top of the key, Hezonja has the tendency to waste movement going east to west and often over-dribbles himself into hoisting poor shots towards the end of the shot clock. Hezonja plays with incredible confidence and swagger, but that has often translated into poor body language on the court when he’s not intricately involved. His behavior has raised serious concerns back to the junior level.
- Dan Gartland