, who recorded a season-high 12 points in just 12 minutes of action this past week against Real Madrid in the ULEB Cup. The Serbian forward is trying to return to his old form after an ACL injury that had him sidelined for over a season. The first goal is to get consistent playing time, and while hes often starting for Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) in the Adriatic League, he doesnt last much on the court. In the ULEB Cup he had barely played at all. In this weeks game, he didnt enter the court until the second quarter, with Real Madrid ahead and the quarterfinals looking ugly for his team (Real Madrid had won the first leg in Belgrade by 11 points).
Nemanja had an inconsistent showing, but left some drops of his talent. Half of his points came from the three-point line, as he scored on back-to-back threes. His team often starts the offense with both bigs offering picks to the point guard on the perimeter, and while Real Madrid focused on stopping the two guys from executing the pick-and-roll play, the other big Aleksandrov both times- was left open for an easy shot. Earlier in the game, he was the guy setting the pick for the playmaker, and received the ball after rolling out to the perimeter, but missed the shot this time even if he looked good on the release. The highlight of the game for him came when he netted a 13 footer, grabbing the ball in the air and releasing his jumper before landing on the floor. Its early to tell, but his stroke might have improved, which wouldnt be surprising, as injured players often take advantage of their down-time to work on their shot.
We could also see Aleksandrov attacking the basket. He tried twice with his left and both times produced, once getting fouled and the other time releasing a long right-handed layup (after changing directions during the drive) where he displayed a very nice touch. Still, he showed an average first step and perhaps a lower degree of explosiveness than prior to his injury. Also, the second after receiving a ball, he tried a complicated assist from the three-point line to the lane that unfortunately wasnt completed; however, it was a nice evidence of his quick decision making.
On defense, he stayed very solid in pick-and-roll situations, containing the ball-handler with quick vertical moves and recovering his match-up with equal quickness. His lateral mobility is very good, and he can consistently stay in front of his match-ups. He didnt look as devoted when it came to contesting perimeter shots in defensive rotations, showing an inconsistent level of intensity. Hes still a bit of a skinny player, and lacks some certain aggressiveness. It becomes obvious in rebounding situations, where he doesnt always tries hard enough boxing out and losses his position against more aggressive opponents.
All in all, hes not a much different player than he was a couple of years ago before the injury, but hes obviously two years older, which makes his case less intriguing. Right now he doesnt look like more than a second-round prospect. He should likely need to become a more dangerous and consistent offensive weapon, or to gain a lot of strength and aggressiveness playing on defense, in order to showcase an intriguing enough package for an NBA team picking in the first round. What seems pretty clear is that he will need at least another year working on his game before he rolls the dice in the draft. For the moment, he has been selected to play the Nike Hoop Summit in early April, a nice chance to regain some of the lost hype with a good performance.