Matthew Starnes | @MatthewHStarnes
Who is Rade Zagorac?
Last Season Stats: 29.4 minutes, 14.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, 2.3 turnovers. Shooting splits of 42/33/78 (FG/3PT/FT).
Rade Zagorac is a 21 year old, 6′ 9”, 205lb forward from Serbia. He has been playing professionally with the KK Mega Leks since 2012 and over the course of his career he has been a gold medalist for the 3×3 U18 World Championship in 2012, a gold medalist for the U20 European Championship in 2015, and a Serbian Cup champion in 2016. He was drafted in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics with the 35th overall pick. His draft rights were traded to the Grizzlies, along with Deyonta Davis, for a future first round pick that was acquired from the Clippers.
Rade is a player with immense potential and a diverse set of two-way skills that could really help the Grizzlies play. From an offensive standpoint, Zagorac can create his own shot, get to the rim with ease, and initiates fast breaks off defensive stops or rebounds. He has a wide arrange of offensive moves and has a knack for changing his pace in order to mess up the defender’s timing, but what stands out most is his length. His long stride and wingspan give him the ability to blow past defenders who are a step off and finish above the rim through traffic.
Off the bench this could be something very valuable for the Grizzlies as Zach Randolph was the driving force with not much help beyond that offensively. The addition of Zagorac would give the second unit another player who can create his own shot and free up shots for others like Troy Daniels.
Defensively, Rade has the “Grit and Grind” style that melds perfectly with the current structure of the Grizzlies’ roster. He is a pest on defense and in cases where he does lag behind, his stride and length make it easy for him to recover. Even though he is lacking in strength, he makes up for this with relentless hustle and constant nagging on ball handlers.
Despite having these great qualities, there are some weaknesses in his game that might be exposed if they do not change at the next level. His strength is his main down fall defensively, being taken advantage of by other players his position that have more size which could be a problem against a bigger and stronger NBA. His shooting can be inconsistent at times and his turnovers can rack up against him in situations where he is running the offense. But these problems can be easily fixed, there are many NBA players who have put on lots of muscle while transitioning to the NBA. As the season goes along, ball security and shooting touch will increase, especially for someone with an offensive mentality like Rade.
Overall, a player like Rade has an enormous amount of raw talent that can easily be enhanced with a developmental coach such as Fizdale. Zagorac could be a huge factor for the Grizzlies next season given he cracks the rotation, which is a huge possibility given the tight budget Memphis has this offseason.