Salvo for Savo?
Where will UH's departed bomber land?
By Danny Cup Choy
Tuesday, June 11, 2002
HONOLULU – The season is over, the camps have ended, but the action is just about to begin. What now occurs are the personal workouts, extensive interviews, and an abundance of rumors that would satisfy even the most loyal National Enquirer readers. It is the time that die-hard fans of both college and professional basketball merge to follow their favorite players and teams. On June 26, 2002, the NBA will hold its annual amateur draft.
In the case of Hawaii basketball fans, we have one man who will have the eyes of a state watching him with great anticipation as the NBA Draft rapidly approaches. Predrag Savovic, the Yugoslavian who has brought excitement and joy across the state of Hawaii, is about to make us all proud. Savo is being told he will be selected anywhere from the end of the first round to the end of the second round. As the draft approaches, I have decided to break down Savo's game to scout what the NBA teams would like about him, and what they might have reservations about. Then I will list teams that I feel are solid fit for Savo. Just as the rumors and circumstances surrounding the NBA Draft will be changing up until June 26, so too will this column.
POSITIVES: As we all know, Savo has a great shot. Every team in the NBA could use a player with the shooting range that Savo possesses, and it is this attribute that makes him so attractive to the NBA. Also, Savo has the perfect size for an NBA shooting guard. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, Savo will be able to use his height to shoot over the smaller guards as well as use his strength to post them up. He has the type of body that will not break down over a long season. On defense, the bigger guards that have become a norm in the NBA will not push him around. Savo goes against the stereotype that European basketball players are soft, and his willingness to rebound the ball just adds to his solid all-around game. Finally, Savo has great intangibles. He is intelligent, confident, and perhaps most importantly, has tremendous character.
NEGATIVES: He is not as quick a player that a lot of teams would desire in their shooting guard. While he has lost a good amount of weight, which is sure to add some speed, teams have to worry about his ability to stay in front of players like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Paul Pierce. I believe that this is the reason that Savo will drop into the second round. Another worry that NBA teams must have is Savo's ability to create his own shot. While teams love guys who can shoot, they also value players who can make something happen when the shot clock is running down. Savo was able to get his shot off in the WAC, but it is hard to see him being able to break down the defenders in the NBA.
X FACTOR: Age. Savo is 26, and depending on the way a team looks at it, this can help or hurt his draft status. For a team that values youth in the draft, Savo will be hurt by his age. However, for teams who look at the maturity, experience, and wisdom that come with an older player, then Savo becomes very desirable. Age is a factor that can sneak Savo into the end of the first round or drop into the bottom half of the second round, depending on the drafting strategy of interested teams.
Utah Jazz – Their offense would be a good fit for Savo. The screens and the constant motion allow for good shooters to get great looks. Coach Jerry Sloan likes hard-working players with discipline. The team could use some shooters, as the looming retirements of John Stockton and Karl Malone have the team searching for players who can put the ball in the basket.
Detroit Pistons – They need scoring, and more specifically, they need shooting. The nucleus of Jerry Stackhouse, Ben Wallace, and Cliff Robinson is solid for an Eastern Conference team, but as their series with the Boston Celtics showed, the team lacks a shooter.
Seattle Sonics – This team only has one pure shooter at their shooting guard position. Brent Barry had a great season, and shot the ball very well. Desmond Mason is an exciting player, but his shooting still needs work. It might be hard for Savo to get playing time right away, but if Barry struggles next year, the addition of Savo would give them a great second option for those long-range bombs.
Los Angeles Lakers – The champs do not need a lot of help, but they could always use another shooter. Mitch Richmond and Brian Shaw are nearing retirement, and Devean George is a free agent this off-season. Also, Lindsey Hunter has not been the sharpshooter the team hoped he would be. With the constant double teams on Shaq, a consistent shooter from 3-point range would mean lights out for the rest of the teams in the NBA. The Lakers have been talking about Savovic in recent months, and their scout has been keeping a watchful eye on him. If the team decides that a shooter is more important than a big man, then look for Savo to be the pick.
Los Angeles Clippers – The "other" team in Los Angeles could use a shooter as well. While the team is exciting and athletic, their only true threat from the outside is Eric Piatkowski. The Clippers are made up of scorers, not shooters. Savo, in my opinion, is a younger, stronger, and faster version of Piatkowski. I see this team as a great fit for Savo.
New Jersey Nets – Anyone watch the NBA finals? This team needs to find some shooters. The Lakers were practically daring the Nets to shoot from the outside, and no one could knock down their shot with any consistency. Kerry Kittles can get hot, and Lucious Harris has his moments, but the Nets could use a consistent shooter.
Chicago Bulls – Lets face it, but Bulls could use help in a lot of areas. However, they do have a young nucleus of big men and the possible drafting of Jay Williams might solve their point guard position. The current shooting guards on their team include Trenton Hassell and Fred Hoiberg. This is a serious area of need for the Bulls, and Savo could step in right away and make a huge impact on this team as a rookie.
San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are similar to the Lakers in regards to the presence of a dominant big man who is surrounded by inconsistent shooters. Tim Duncan will be double teamed a lot, and if the Spurs have a guy who can hit the three, then it opens up the entire floor. Savo is not a need pick, but it would make them a much better team.
AND THE TEAM I SEE CHOOSING PREDRAG SAVOVIC…
Memphis Grizzlies – To me, this is the team that makes the most sense for a few reasons. The biggest reason is that they could really use a player like Savo on their team. Michael Dickerson is the only true shooting guard on the team, and he is not known for his pure shooting touch. Savo's experience and leadership could come in handy for a young franchise like Memphis. They did well in grabbing Shane Battier last year, even though he was considered to be older than what most teams would desire in the rapidly changing belief in the NBA that drafting youth is better. Battier's situation was very similar to what Savo currently faces. New General Manager Jerry West has already shown an interest in Savo, and the Grizzlies have two second round picks. Logic tells me that the Grizzles will take Savo. That being said, it probably will not happen. Stay tuned…
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT SAVO…
"More than a few scouts and coaches were drooling over the Hawaii product by way of Yugoslavia. He proved he's not afraid to mix it up in the paint or launch it from way downtown. He already has a great knowledge of the game and ripped body to withstand the daily beatings of the NBA."
"Savovic did nothing to dispel the belief that he is one of the best shooters. He has an excellent court demeanor and knows precisely how to get the shots he can make. The man they call ‘Savo' is the proscribed size for a shooting guard position, and he showed plenty of grit on defense as well."
-Chris Ekstrand, Draft Expert