The Celtics badly need help with rebounding and a rotation big man to put next to Al Horford. They happened to draft Ante Zizic last year and he happens to do those things pretty well. In fact, our old friend Kevin O’Connor has stated that his year in Euroleague has elevated his stock to the point where he’d be a top 10 pick in this year’s draft.
He even finished 2nd for the Euroleague Rising Star award, trailing only future number 1 pick candidate Luka Doncic. via CSNNE
A 20-year-old center out of Croatia, Zizic was chosen 23rd overall by Boston with the team intending to stash him overseas. He began the season playing in the ABA League in Croatia before singing with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul in December. In 20 Euroleague games, Zizic averaged 9 points and 6.7 rebounds a game.
However, I feel like we might be getting a little bit carried away with the hype train on Ante Zizic. He’s a very good prospect. He’s got the skills that would be very handy to have. But he’s still just a rookie. I don’t think we can simply swap out a old sage like Amir Johnson for a kid that’s never played an NBA game before and expect no slippage.
Danny Ainge sure seems like he’d like to pump the brakes a bit.
“I don’t know,” Ainge said. “I don’t want to put any pressure on guys that have never played in the NBA yet. I don’t even want to go there with expectations. You know, let’s see. Let’s wait and see. We like him. We love his potential. But we’ll see. I mean, at some point I do believe he’ll be able to help us, but when that is and how early that is in his career, I don’t know. Time will tell.”
If, as expected, we’ve seen the last of Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, and perhaps even Kelly Olynyk, then there will certainly be minutes available for Zizic. I hope, however, that they can also find a veteran or that can provide some minutes as well.
Brad Stevens used a lot of small ball lineups to varying degrees of success, but the fact that he kept going back to Amir Johnson tells you that he was looking for some kind of rim protection and traditional big man support that he can’t get by running out 4 smalls around Al Horford.
I’m excited to see what Zizic can do. I just don’t want to get too carried away too quickly. (Of course all this will go out the window the second he grabs two consecutive offensive rebounds in Summer League.)