The Thunder gave up a lot — Ricky Rubio and two 2020 first-round picks — to move up to the 17th spot in the draft and select Pokusevski, but it was a reasonable move given that he was the youngest prospect in the class and has so much upside. A very skinny 7-foot power forward, Pokusevski won’t turn 19 until the day after Christmas. In preseason action, he played a total of 71 minutes in three games (23.6 MPG). He had his ups and downs, but he definitely flashed potential, averaging 11 points, 9.3 boards, and 1.3 steals while making 35 percent of his three-point attempts. Due to his inexperience and a lack of strength, the Serbian is likely a year away from making significant contributions in Oklahoma City, but with his unique skill set, he should eventually become a very valuable player.
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Last season, Pokusevski was off to a good start with Olympiacos B in the Greek second division (A2 EOK), but he was sidelined from November 30 to February 20 due to injury. He was just starting to get back to speed when the league was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March. In total, the youngster played in 11 contests, averaging 23.1 minutes, 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.8 blocks, with shooting splits of .404/.321/.783. He had an impressive A/T ratio of 1.7, an excellent PER of 25.1, and an outstanding average of 5.4 combined steals and blocks per 40 minutes.
In terms of metrics, Pokusevski was clearly the most efficient and productive international player this past season. However, not only is the sample small, but he also did not produce his numbers against the best competition. In my estimation, which is based on past data, the Greek A2 EOK is similar to playing in the lower DI conferences, such as the Big South and the Metro Atlantic. In other words, the young Serbian may have produced the best international numbers, but he also had the easiest schedule among all of the other top prospects playing overseas.
Pokusevski has an impressive blend of dribbling, shooting, and passing skills for his size. He’s also competitive and confident — he is not shy about dribbling or shooting, and is graceful with the ball in his hands. The 18-year-old Serbian is not just a straight-line driver — he can go right or left, and has multiple dribble moves, including in-outs. He makes some very nifty passes on the move, and he also has surprising body control at the rim. He likes to use floaters/runners around the basket, including a sweet finger roll.
As a jump shooter, Pokusevski has a quick release, and his transition from dribbling to shooting is smooth. He ranked at the 68th percentile for points per possession among international prospects this past season when shooting off the bounce, which is impressive for his size, even considering the subpar level of competition. However, his shooting mechanics could use some work, as he does short-arm some shots, and he shoots more out than up. His height generally allows him to get away with his flat shooting motion, but improving his percentage from deep should be a priority.
Had he qualified, Pokusevski would have led the A2 EOK with a defensive rating of 84.4, and he certainly produced in terms of rebounds, steals, and blocks. However, his inexperience shows on this end of the court. A lack of discipline and attention can lead to easy buckets for opposition and silly fouls, though he is generally not in foul trouble. He is often late on rotations and closeouts due to a lack of awareness. Also, his lateral movement is not elite, and he can struggle at times on the perimeter.
Overall, Pokusevski has as much upside as anyone in this draft, and his preseason play with the Thunder was encouraging. I expect him to eventually outperform his draft slot, and consider him to be a potential All-Star down the road.
— Richard Harris
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Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.