Former Trail Blazers Wing Hoping for NBA Comeback?

The ex-lottery pick washed out of the league in 2020.
Aug 11, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside (21) celebrates his buzzer beating shot against the Dallas Mavericks to end the first quarter with forward Mario Hezonja (44) during the first half of a NBA game at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 11, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside (21) celebrates his buzzer beating shot against the Dallas Mavericks to end the first quarter with forward Mario Hezonja (44) during the first half of a NBA game at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Croatian swingman Mario Hezonja was once seen as being the kind of no-brainer lottery pick who possessed the playmaking, jumper, and athletic upside that drew comparison with a certain Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Fame shooting guard who happened to be his idol. Kobe Bryant was actually still playing when Herzonja was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic.

The 6-foot-8 forward, still just 29, never quite realized those lofty goals during his five NBA seasons, which he split between the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers. During his final year in the league, Portland took a flyer on Hezonja. Across 53 contests (mostly as a bench power forward), he averaged 4.8 points on .422/.308/.814 shooting splits, 3.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 0.7 steals, in 16.4 minutes a night.

After washing out of the NBA, Hezonja has played for clubs in Greece, Russia, and most recently Spain. He logged his last two seasons with Real Madrid. Hezonja was named an All-EuroLeague Second Teamer this past season, and won the EuroLeague championship with Real Madrid last year.

Now, it appears the ex-Blazer is gearing up for a potential return to the league.

Marc Stein reports on his Substack that Hezonja, now a free agent, is angling for his next NBA opportunity following four seasons abroad. Although Hezonja's shot at superstardom stateside seems over, he still has the size at least to intrigue.

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Alex Kirschenbaum

ALEX KIRSCHENBAUM

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