Nikola Pekovic profile
Drafted #31 in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Timberwolves
Height: 6'11" (211 cm)
Weight: 243 lbs (110 kg)
Position: C
Hometown: Bijelo Polje, Montenegro
Current Team: Timberwolves
Win - Loss: 5 - 0


Roundup: Pekovic Reigns in the Adriatic League

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Apr 30, 2008, 01:39 am
In a controversial decision, the Euroleague chose Danilo Gallinari over Nikola Pekovic as the winner of the Rising Star award that honors the best young player in the competition. Still, the Serbian center won’t likely be sulking about it for too long after leading his team Partizan to win the Adriatic League, earning in the process MVP honors and our Player of the Week nomination.

Partizan validated its dominance of this year's Adriatic League by beating Union Olimpija and Hemofarm in this past week's Final Four. Pekovic had 31 points and 5 rebounds in the semis, while settling for 22 point and 7 rebounds in the final, combining for 19/25 from the field.

3096[c]Photo: ABA League[/c]

As usual, he did all his damage around the basket, showcasing his ability to establish great position inside and emerging as almost unstoppable once he received the ball. Pekovic is not a go-to guy in the sense that he’s a creative force that facilitates his team’s offensive flow, but he's such a big threat that his sole presence makes his team's offense run smoothly due his own ability to finish around the rim and the spaces he generates for his teammates with the defensive help he regular draws.
Partizan should find no opposition on its way to the Serbian championship as well; it will be way more difficult to retain all its young gems, starting with Pekovic. As we stated a few months ago, he has pretty much all but boarded the plane for Panathinaikos, as everything regarding his transfer there has already been agreed upon. Even though he would normally garner a considerable amount of interest in the first round with the incredible season he’s had, the inevitably of him staying in Europe for a considerable amount of time, along with the verbal discouragement he’s given teams from drafting him (saying that he just does not like the NBA) will almost certainly drop him to the 2nd round.

Top Draft-Eligible Performers in the Euroleague Regular Season

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Feb 04, 2008, 01:25 am
The eruption of Pekovic in this year’s Euroleague can only be labeled as astounding. With Kosta Perovic and Predrag Drobnjak out of Partizan, Pekovic was supposed to take over the paint production in the Serbian team, but no one could foresee the degree of success he would enjoy.

Absolutely lethal within 10 feet of the basket, Pekovic has elevated the meaning of executor to a new degree, while posting some impressive stats for a youngster like him. Second in efficiency, third in scoring, first in offensive rebounds, fourth in total rebounds, first in fouls drawn, he has been a major force in this Euroleague that greatly helped Partizan to advance to the Top-16 round with a nice 6-8 record.

Although not a go-to guy in the sense of an on-the-court leader that not only scores but creates for his teammates (Pekovic doesn’t stand with his passing ability, and his instincts make him chase the basket immediately after receiving the ball, like a shark goes after blood), he has ended up becoming the offensive reference of his team, the guy everybody looks for as the first option, the easiest and most reliable solution to succeed in any given possession.

Very strong, decently athletic, aggressive and nicely skilled around the rim to put the ball on the net, Pekovic had became a very serious candidate for the first round in the next draft. However, his flirtations with the top teams in Europe suggest a mid-term future in the Old Continent that will certainly affect his draft stock.

Roundup: Tsintsadze at his Best

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jan 23, 2008, 07:27 pm
Nikola Pekovic has reached an agreement with Panathinaikos for, apparently, the following three seasons. He will only move to the Greek powerhouse after his current season with Partizan is finished.

Pekovic blossomed this season into one of the most productive inside men all over Europe, which combined with his youth, made him one of the most attractive players on the European market. Rumors say he was paid as much as 4.5 million Euros (6.55 million dollars net) for three years, which is similar to the type of money this year’s #1 overall pick will receive in gross terms. This move is a clear statement by the player towards a future in the European scene for the mid-term. He hasn’t even waited for the NBA draft to evaluate his options at the American league. In the end, this is certainly a hit to his draft stock. Since any team drafting him in the end of the first round will likely never see him step foot on an NBA court (because of the extremely limiting rookie scale), it’s much more likely that he goes in the 2nd round now.

Adriatic League Report: The Top Five NBA Draft Prospects

Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Nov 27, 2007, 09:09 pm
Nikola Pekovic has been nothing short of amazing this season. Early on, he’s been among the most dominant players in the Euroleague statistically, and has lifted his team to a very good start. Has his great streak of performances helped his draft stock? Sure…but the real question is by just how much? Pekovic has not added all that many new wrinkles to his game in the offseason, he is still the same tough center who likes contact and physical play, but who’s fundamentals are not that good and who’s physical attributes would be fairly average on an NBA court.

Pekovic’s success lies in his post game. He is incredibly strong, not just for a youngster, possessing great lower body strength and broad shoulders capable of putting on even more weight. He is certainly built well enough to hold his own in the NBA. Pekovic does a good job of using his strength in the low block, carving out space and positioning himself nicely. He asks for the ball and executes. Even if his moves are basic and simple, he is extremely efficient (shooting an incredible percentage from the field) and does not turn the ball over. Nikola’s passing game will not wow anybody, but he is good at kicking the ball back to perimeter once he is double teamed, helping the team’s ball-movement in the process.

Pekovic shows nimble feet in the paint, and will create his own shot by posting up once in a while, but most of damage he does prior to catching the ball by establishing good position and than just releasing his effective hook shot. Nikola has good hands, but sometimes struggles to make tougher layups due to his not so soft touch. He has range out to 15 feet, and has been moderately successful on a limited number of attempts this season, but his face the basket game is not a strong part of his repertoire at the moment. The touch on his jumper is somewhat average, and it takes time for him to release the ball.

The Serbian center is a good to very good rebounder who relies more on fundamentals than sheer athleticism. He does a proper job of positioning himself and boxing out his opponent, while his size also helps in the process. Pekovic’s man-to-man defense has developed by leaps and bounds in the past two years. While he struggled in the past to defend on the perimeter, he now shows improved lateral movement and is able to stop dribble penetrations. At least when we are talking about big guys. He is not very aggressive around the three-point line and will not put a great pressure on pick and roll situations, but rather sometimes prefers to just go under the screen. Nikola is very good at defending post ups, making it really tough on offensive players with his toughness and strength. On the other hand, his help defense is not so good due to his relative lack of quickness and leaping ability.

Pekovic is a Center all the way, and despite being well built, he will not be considered anything more than an average athlete by NBA standards. He can get off the floor; but does not have great lift, and his fluidity could use some improvement. His quickness is also pretty average, not really being fast at running up and down the court or moving side to side. Add the fact that he does not have a prototypical European skill-set, and you begin to wonder if he’ll be able to continue to dominate his opposition once he starts matching up with players who are just as big and strong as him (or more) in the NBA. He seems like the type of player who would have been quite a popular player amongst NBA scouts 10-15 years ago, but players his type (brute, back to the basket types) aren’t quite as in demand these days it seems.

Even though he is tearing up Euroleague competition, Nikola is not a lock to get drafted in the first round in 2008 when he will be automatically eligible. Pekovic is a low risk type of prospect, who would probably pan out as a rock solid backup center, but who might not necessarily have the potential to develop into a quality starter. Still, it’s very possible that someone decides to gamble on him somewhere in the first round (how high is hard to say this early), because even good backup centers aren’t that easy to come by.

Roundup: Unstoppable Pekovic

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Nov 06, 2007, 12:47 am
Two more monster games, and thus, another Player of the Week nomination for Nikola Pekovic. The Serbian big is blossoming this season after the departure of Kosta Perovic and Predrag Drobnjak. He had to step up in order to fill the void in the middle and, so far, nobody is missing those two in Partizan Igokea.

It’s only two games into the Euroleague season, but Pekovic already leads the efficiency ranking and field goal percentage stats, while coming up second in scoring. That’s what happens when, after a MVP performance, the guy goes for 23 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists against Chorale Roanne, actually helping his team to collect an extremely important road victory in order to achieve a surprising 2-0 record.

That good start is well reflected in the Balkan competition as well, where Partizan leads the Adriatic League with a 7-1 record, after beating Crvena Zvezda, likely their biggest rivalry game in the competition (considering we’re talking about the Balkans, that means a super hot game). Pekovic was again the scoring anchor for his team, with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.

2691[c]Photo: ABA[/c]

Nikola Pekovic is for real. Of course not every week will be like the last two, but he’s most likely going to deliver a superb season. As long as his team keeps playing smart basketball, he’s going to take advantage of every ball he receives in the paint. His effectiveness down low is proving to be ridiculous: after 10 games combining his Adriatic League and Euroleague outings, he is hitting a ridiculous 72% of his field goals. And as we expressed last week, it’s not like he’s dunking the ball every time.

Roundup: Pekovic, Euroleague Week One MVP

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Oct 31, 2007, 03:22 am
Like a devastating tornado, Pekovic exposed the fragility of AXA F.C.Barcelona’s interior defense in the first game of the Euroleague with a superb performance. He was unstoppable, scoring at will from the paint. He collected 29 points, going an almost perfect 13/14 from the field. He was that unstoppable.

Although I don’t think anybody could possibly have predicted this kind of scoring outburst, it was pretty clear that Pekovic would step up this season. He was already very productive for Partizan last year whenever Kosta Perovic was sidelined due to injuries, and now that the Serbian center is battling for a spot in Golden State’s rotation, and Peja Drobnjak is back in the ACB, Pekovic has become the main reference in the paint for his team.

[c]Photo: Euroleague[/c]

A fairly peculiar player, Pekovic is one of the purest finishers you will find in international basketball. He’s all about gaining position, receiving and scoring. He’s direct, automatic in the look for the basket. He’s not a dancer in the paint, not a ball-handler, he’s not any special passer out of the post, or a long-range shooter-- he basically moves without the ball in order to receive it in the best possible position to attack the basket. Meanwhile, has a nice physical set to get the job done, as he perfectly combines an extremely strong body for his age (he’s truly built like a house) with notable explosiveness. He’s a tough guy that easily takes contact, so it’s not easy for his opponents to stop him.

Barcelona had a good taste, as Pekovic displayed his entire repertoire on them: jump-hooks with both hands, mid-range shots, turnaround jumpers, layups and dunks after gaining the position under the basket, dunks in transition, put-backs after offensive rebounds, Nikola is a high-percentage guy, but he had one of those days when everything just went in. He also did a nice job on defense, staying physical on his opponents. All in all, he was the building block of Partizan’s victory.

Roundup: Teodosic Takes the Relay

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Apr 04, 2007, 01:26 am
…Nikola Pekovic,who apparently saves the best part of his game for the most important part of the season. Actually, it had been a bit of a disappointing year for him, playing a very secondary role behind Partizan’s starting inside duo of Predrag Drobnjak and Kosta Perovic. Nobody expected great strides in his game, since it’s obvious for some time now that he’s a pretty mature guy, but at least to establish himself as an important frontcourt player in the Adriatic League.

Anyway, once the semifinals of the Balkan competition arrived, Pekovic significantly improved his production. With Partizan overcoming Cibona’s home-court advantage, he scored in double digits in all three games of the series, blossoming in the definitive third played on the road in Zagreb, where he had 20 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals while replacing the injured Kosta Perovic in the starting five.

This is more in tune with what we expected out of him. Pekovic is an able player when it comes to taking advantage of his teammates’ creativity, and Partizan not only has showed this season to be capable of eventually playing fine team basketball, but features a bunch of players (Cummings, Tepic, or Drobnjak come to mind) that should be able to help Pekovic produce on a regular basis.


After all, Pekovic is a dependent scorer. He needs to receive the ball in good position within 10-12 feet from the basket in order to become a dangerous player. Once there, he’s pretty effective, using his strong 6-10 frame and nice explosiveness very well. He will go up for the two-handed dunk if he’s given space, or he can use a nice jump-hook with either hand over his defender. Don’t ask him for anything more than a simple and direct move to release the ball in the low post against opposition. Stuff like banging while dribbling, fakes or any elaborate moves might result in a turnover. He can also shoot the ball from the mid-range area with decent accuracy, but it’s not a very usual option for him. It’s particularly a rare luxury to see a good pass coming out of his hands, as he’s a pure finisher and doesn’t particularly stand out in terms of basketball IQ.

On defense, he’s a very physical player in the low post, always looking for contact with the opponent using his very strong body. However, he might lack a bit of lateral quickness and anticipating instinct to contest his match-up’s moves. When it comes to cleaning the boards, he doesn’t seem to have a particular nose for the ball, and his hands are not the best around. Certainly his 2.6 average in rebounds in the Adriatic League is disappointing any way you look at it.

The good part about Pekovic NBA-wise is that his superb strength would definitely help him translate some of his game to the next level. However, he would still be a relatively undersized center at 6-10, with limited skills and poor rebounding ability. A second-round call, perhaps in the bottom half, seems the most realistic scenario for him right now.

Euroleague Prospects: Stock Neutral

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Feb 18, 2007, 12:44 am
Nikola Pekovic didn't made too many strides in his game since last season, and with the way he looks on the court, it's questionable just how much he's still improving these days. Pekovic is not a typical European big man, relying mostly on his physical attributes rather than on the fundamental part of the game. Pekovic is a threat only within 12 feet of the basket, where he can use his very good size, brute strength and solid mobility to overpower opponents and gain good position on the block. That's basically his offense, gaining position near the basket where he can receive the ball and then going up for a strong finish. Pekovic doesn't have any problems establishing himself for a post entry pass considering that he possesses great strength, not only for a youngster. However, when it comes to catching the ball and finishing around the rim, his hands and lack of soft touch are exposed.

Defensively, Pekovic once again shows his toughness by forcing contact and being physical with his opponent, but once outside of the key, he suffers staying in front of his man because of poor lateral quickness. This might be a serious problem when talking about his NBA upside considering the up-tempo direction the league seems to be heading in. Pekovic doesn't show good awareness on either end of the floor, lacking some natural instincts and possessing a basketball IQ which seems below average. His poor understanding of the game is noticeable from the fact that he made just 2 assists in the entire competition, compared to 15 turnovers. Pekovic will occasionally pull up for a mid-range shot, but with poor results. His shooting motion should be more fluid, which hinders him from achieving a consistent release point on his shot. He looks very mechanical from the free throw line, but is adequately accurate - 20/30 on the season.

From a physical point of view, Nikola has what it takes to play in the NBA, but at the moment it's rather tough seeing what "extra" he can bring to an NBA team. His closest NBA comparison would be Mario Kasun, who didn't actually have a lot of success in his brief stint with the Orlando Magic. With that said, Pekovic is still only 20 years old and there is certainly hope for him to develop his skills down the road. The first round looks far away currently, but there is a more than good chance that someone will take a shot at him in the 2nd round and stash him in Europe.

Euroleague Preview: NBA Draft Prospects (The Veterans)

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Dimitris Ritsonis
Dimitris Ritsonis
Oct 25, 2006, 12:22 am
Nikola Pekovic is the antithesis of your prototypical European big man, actually relying way more on his physical tools than his fundamentals. Pekovic was instrumental for Serbia’s golden run at this summer’s U-20 European Championship, posting 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in the final against Turkey.

Pekovic is very strong for his age, both in the upper and lower body. He knows how to use his physicality to establish good position on either the offensive or defensive block or to put a body on the opponent and force him into a tough shot. Nikola also has nice size at 6-11 and is a very solid athlete. He is mobile, can move his feet well enough laterally and can get off the ground, although he isn’t an explosive leaper.

He is a typical bruiser, who does most of the damage within a few feet of the basket, and shows good positioning and understanding of how to box-out his opponent and secure rebounds. Pekovic is also a very good man to man defender in the low post, showing impressive balance and composure to stay in front of his man.

In terms of scoring, Pekovic relies more on his teammates, since his skill-set is modest in this department. Once he gets in a good situation Pekovic will finish with strong results, showing decent touch and reactivity around the basket. However, outside of the paint Pekovic is not a dangerous threat, since he doesn’t possess the ability to put the ball on the floor and has not yet developed a reliable mid-range jumper. He is also a below average passer by all standards and at times shows a questionable basketball IQ.

Pekovic is the first big man off the bench for Partizan, replacing either former NBA player Peja Drobnjak or Warrriors pick Kosta Perovic. Crucial for Nikola in order to be a candidate for more than a 2nd round pick will be to show an expanded skill-set. He has really nice basic skills for a center - size, athleticism, strength and toughness - but lacks the technical ability which would enable him to become a more proficient player.

A Look Back At The U-20 European Championships (Part Two)

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Sep 22, 2006, 02:00 am
A tremendous force down low in this championship, Pekovic looked like the most mature big at this stage. He looked awfully strong out there, particularly compared with his rivals, but also fairly athletic. He’s not a super-skilled guy, but he knows what to do on court to be effective. Pekovic played very well off the ball, setting picks, establishing position near the basket, looking for spaces in the paint or taking advantage of defensive rotations. Once he receives near the basket, he’s hard to stop given his strength, toughness and athleticism. He easily dunks the ball showing nice explosiveness. He played some one-on-one in the low post, but trying to receive close to the basket, so he just needed some simple move to deliver a semi-hook while outmuscling his opponent. Showing a solid stroke from the mid-range area, he also ran well the court. On defense, he used his mobility and body quite well. His potential is not great, because he’s more of a center with a power forward size at 6-10, but still an interesting player. He earned All-Tournament Team honors while being one of the main foundations of the Serbian victory.

Adriatic League 2005/2006 Recap

Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Apr 26, 2006, 03:58 am
Partizan added another intriguing prospect this summer to an already full roster of young talented players when they bought Nikola Pekovic from Atlas, after his solid performance at the European Junior Championships where he averaged 11.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. In his first season with Partizan, Nikola saw prominent minutes, and because of him Partizan let Macendonian 7-footer Predrag Samardziski move to FMP. Pekovic is a hard-working, tough Center with a very promising physique, featuring nice lower body strength and wide shoulders which appear to be capable of adding plenty of weight.

He has good size at 6-11, moves his feet well under the boards and is rather strong for a youngster. Unlike his teammate Perovic, Pekovic is very active, playing very hard under the rim and being a capable rebounder, despite not being much of a leaper, mostly thanks to his strength, tenacity and positioning. On the offensive end he mainly depends on his teammates to create offense for him, often by setting solid screens and rolling to the basket, which helps considering that he isn’t a very polished player at the moment. However, he shows good footwork in the post and is able to score when he gets good position on the block.

It will be interesting what Pekovic can do next year, especially if Perovic or maybe even Milojevic leave the team, which would open up a whole lot of playing time for him. He has 2 more years of draft eligibility and it will be interesting to follow his development. One of our International NBA scout sources claim that he’s considered by some to be the 2nd best prospect in the region after Ante Tomic. His excellent size and fundamentals, extremely long arms, terrific frame and very good motor likely have a lot to do with that.

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