Our own Zach Oliver has already discussed why he doesn't think the Orlando Magic ought to select Mario Hezonja in the 2015 NBA Draft this Thursday.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas provided a more optimistic look at Hezonja during a conference call Monday afternoon. Bilas, who will analyze the Draft live for ESPN's telecast--alongside Rece Davis, Jay Williams, and Jalen Rose--was effusive in his praise of the Croatian swingman.
"I don't think there is any downside with Hezonja. There is nothing he's not good at," said Bilas. "He is competitive. He's big, he's strong, he's athletic. He can shoot it. He's a really good shooter. He puts it on the deck. He can defend. There is nothing I don't like about that guy, nothing."
Bilas noted--and this note is important--he's never seen Hezonja play live; he's only watched him on film. But as his scouting report attests, Bilas is exceptionally high on Hezonja.
"But, boy, from what I've seen, what's not to like? He looks really, really good," Bilas said later. On June 15th, Bilas rated Hezonja the seventh-best prospect in the Draft, trailing Justise Winslow (fifth) and Kristaps Porzingis (sixth).
The Magic own the fifth pick in Thursday's Draft. Hezonja's scoring punch would certainly boost their moribund offense, and he figures to be on the board when they select. Whether they value Hezonja as highly as Bilas does, or more than they do the other available prospects, remains to be seen.
It bears noting here that, according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, "Hezonja already is penciled into the Magic's draft slot."
Hezonja, 20, has spent the last two seasons honing his craft for FC Barcelona. In ACB play during the 2014/15 season, he averaged 4.8 points on 46.5 percent shooting in 14.3 minutes. In Eurocup play, those numbers improved to 7.7 points in 16.5 minutes, while his shooting dipped only slightly to 46.2 percent.