In my first article on Nikola Milutinov, I focused on the career of the San Antonio Spurs’ 2015 draft pick. Today, I will take a close look at his game and what he can do on the court. Let’s begin with his strengths and weaknesses.
PnR finishing at the rim
Fighting for position
Milutinov plays with a lot of energy, which is one of the main reasons why he grabs so many offensive boards. He fights for position on every possession and with that comes a lot of 2nd chance points. Milutinov has also improved in setting screens for ball handlers, and knows when to set the hard screen or just a stopgap before he rolls to the rim for an alley-oop.
Nikola has particularly improved at defending the rim. While there is no info available on opponent FG%, he averaged 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes this season, improving to average 4 blocks per 36 in the playoffs.
Switching on defense
Putting the ball on the floor
While he is tall, strong and has a nice touch, Milutinov struggles to create for himself and score. One of the main reasons is that he has trouble putting the ball on the floor.
Even though he has soft hands, he didn't showcase ability to score from outside the paint. He can occasionally make a jumper from 15-20 feet, but it has to be around the free throw line. While shooting is an area he could improve for sure, he’s shown the ability to take advantage of smaller matchups.
On defense, he will struggle to switch onto explosive players and guards, even though he improved his PnR defense considerably over the last couple of years. He has good awareness when defending PnR, but with multiple screens, things can get difficult. He may also struggle to guard centers in small ball lineups, players who are both a deep threat and light on their feet.
Areas to improve
Milutinov can improve his shooting in every area. He shot a solid 55% for 2pt and 70% FT, this season in Euroleague. Attempted only 1 three pointer in his 83 Euroleague games over 4 seasons so it's safe to say he is destined to play around the rim.
He will also need to improve his agility, mainly on the less glamorous end. He is mobile for his height and frame and I believe he could end up being decent backup big. Perhaps one day, he will be able to regularly channel his inner Nikola Jokic, as he does in this final video.