In this latest iteration of draft profiles, I will have a look at Luka Samanic. But I am going to do it a little differently. I am hazarding a guess that not many of the people who are writing the scouting reports for other sites etc have seen as little of Samanic as I have, so what I am going to do in this draft profile is put in a few video clips and dissect his play in those a little more deeply.
Team: Olimpija Ljubljana (Adriatic & Euro-league)
Draft Position: Late 1st Rd
2018-19 Euro Stats: Over 50 games he played an average of 18 minutes per game with the following stat line – 8pts, 3 reb, .36blks, .46stl, .88ast on shooting percentages of 48%FG, 34%3PT and 72%FT. If you average that out over 36min per then the numbers are a solid 16pts, 6 reb, .72 blks, 1stl, 1.6ast.
I actually think his numbers reflect his youth, level of experience and the inconsistency that brings, rather than any real red flag issues with his game. But I will pick apart his game in a bit.
Samanic had some solid play at the Draft Combine. There he shot well in the drills and played one scrimmage where he posted a stat line of 13pts, 7reb and 1blk in 19minutes of play.
The first play of this highlights package shows Luka moving up the court quickly in transition, where he led into the lane for a long outlet pass, where he finishes with a dunk, with two opponents initiating contact with him. His ability to take contact, even against much larger stronger players will become a theme in all the highlights and bodes well for his willingness to take a hit when trying to score at the pro level, as he will initially have a size/strength differential against veteran bigs.
His next scoring shot was off an attack on the lane where he went wide and almost hooked it in off the back-board. He does have a wide range of scoring moves in the lane, most come in the flow, but he can seem a little reckless at times, sort of like an uncontrolled Manu.
The block of the perimeter shooter is very interesting and is something that many would like to see Bertans doing. I think that his ability to guard or at the very least close out well against perimeter players is a skill set the Spurs would love to have. Imagine having long arms in the face of the deep shooters on teams like the Rockets or Warrriors…
The next series scores show his range of scoring abilities, with a three, and some attacks in the lane where he scored on a lay-up and a dunk. His versatility could be useful in trying to space the floor. In one of those he follows his pass into the lane and gets a tip jam, which is quite smart play and shows that he isn’t afraid to go after rebounds, and with more threes being hoisted from afar, offensive rebounds will be worth their weight in gold in the next few seasons.
At around the 1:50 mark, there is a very interesting play, where he is out towards the top of the lane, and he sees a cutting team-mate, who he passes to for an easy score. That type of vision is going to be needed if he is to play alongside the like of Aldridge, DeRozan, Poeltl and the other cutters on the Spurs.
At around the 2:12 mark he does pass up an open three to try and drive into a packed lane. He will need to hit those open threes if he is going to get any consistent playing time, especially with Pop as a coach.
He shows his ability to read passing lanes near the 2:40 mark, which will be useful if he spends any time guarding the perimeter. And prior to that he gets a block down low – which happens again at around 3:50.
The later part of the highlights is him playing in the U18’s in the Euroleague, You can see how he is quite thin and gangly…well according to what I read (or for the life of me I can’t find it again) that at the combine he seems to have bulked up with muscle, whilst still keeping his quickness.
You can see the main scouting themes as they come up so I’m not going to repeat those good points but will add where I think it needs it.
In that first play, after hustling down the court well, Samanic takes the feed and tried to score very close to the basket but misses – these are the opportunities he has to feast on if he is going to see the court at all in the NBA. Then I the next play he again receives the ball down low, and tries to dribble the ball to gain position, but ends up bouncing it off his foot – although he does recover well.
The next minute or so do show his potential in an attacking role, or his value in transition – this potential may also translate into being the pick man, and either rolling into the lane or popping out to the arc. That would be a valuable set of offensive skills to have especially with the passers that are on the Spurs.
At around 1:47’ish he uses his length while guarding the top of the lane, he picks off the pass and scores. This is good defence on two levels, firstly he is denying an easy drive down the lane, and then the read of the pass to nab the steal – really it ends up being a 4 point turn around for his team. The Spurs value that sort of defensive intelligence.
When he is attacking the lane, he does seem to pick up quite a few fouls, which could translate to the pro’s if he keeps that fearless attitude. However, when he tries to force the offence, he takes bad shots instead of passing it out.
At around 4:00min, his passing skills are on show, and what can be seem is that his court vision is quite good, and he has the skills to get the ball where it needs to go the right way rather than forcing a bad pass. This skill, especially from the post is a very valuable skill set to the Spurs to use.
He certainly has the range to shoot it from beyond the arc but is at times plagued by inconsistency. But the Spurs do have Chip and having better ball movement will help with his range as well.
His defensive BBIQ is above average, and can only grow from there – however, his lack of strength (which it seems he is working on) will be an issue as he will get bullied by the bigger and stronger 4’s & 5’s in the NBA.
One thing you don’t see Samanic do much in those videos is take mid-range jumpers, which if he plays on a Spurs team isn’t really a bad thing as Aldridge and DeRozan own those areas.
Fit With The Spurs:
I’m not sure the Bertans experiment is going to continue too much longer and given that rookies spend a year in the G-League, he could be a good replacement for Bertans, who has shown that his defence is consistently lacking. As you can see, he is pretty solid in transition, which means he can run with the young guns. He does have range and the ability to shoot it from deep, which is also a need of the Spurs (especially from a big). His attacking the lane could also be beneficial in opening up players on the perimeter. Defensively, Samanic is quite a solid player, he certainly has the BBIQ to be effective on that end, but he really does need to muscle up.
Overall, Samanic does meet a need for a stretch big, but I am not sure he will be chosen around the 19th pick, but certainly could be at 29th. The Spurs are certainly having a good look at him as not that long ago, R.C. Buford went and scouted Samanic in a game between Olimpija Ljubljana and Sencur. In that game Samanic scored 17 points and hauled in 11 rebounds. Then he’s come in to SA for workouts. It all depends on how the teams around the Spurs picks choose. Other teams like Atlanta are said to be interested in him.