By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
It has been four years since Vasilije Micic was selected with the 52nd overall pick in the 2014 Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. During that period, the Serbian guard went through various ups and downs and some injury problems that possibly hindered the rate of his development, until establishing himself in EuroLeague and emerging as one of the top guards in the competition this season with Anadolu Efes.
Micic has been averaging career-high numbers of 12.4 points, 5.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds over 27:28 minutes per game so far in 2018-2019 and the general consensus says that he’s playing the best basketball of his career. He earned his first EuroLeague monthly MVP award in November and is already considered among candidates to win season MVP.
Does he think that his flights are no longer under the NBA radar?
“Honestly, I don’t think too much about the NBA now,” Micic told Eurohoops. “If I think about it too much, I will lose my focus. And I don’t want to that to happen.”
“I had some contact with some people from the Sixers in the past but not for a couple of years. I’m OK with that. If I keep working as an individual and give my best to my team, I believe that everything is going to happen,” Micic added.
Before he was drafted by the Sixers, Micic had made an impression in the 2014 Eurocamp thanks to with his playmaking skills, decision-making and overall way he ran his team’s offense. On the other hand, scouts also had noted that physical aspects of his game might be subpar for NBA standards.
Micic had already thought of this a year back though. It was the 2013 U19 World Championship in Prague where as a member of the Serbian national team he faced a USA squad that included such players as future NBAers Jahlil Okafor, Aaron Gordon (MVP of the tournament), Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton or Montrez Harrell.
Serbia lost to team USA twice, in Group Stage and in the Final. Micic had scored 24 points in the first match vs. the American team and finished the title game with 13 points plus 10 assists.
“You know, the first time I faced American players was when I was 19 years old in Prague? That’s when I realized the things I need to improve. One of the most important things was my body. Although I feel good about it now as a point guard in Europe, I think it’s an average body for the NBA,” Micic said to Eurohoops.
“But, as I said, I’m trying not thinking about the NBA much for now. My attention is with Anadolu Efes. I’m happy with my role here which I think it’s important for my age. It’s a good opportunity. I’m going to use it and we will see,” Micic said.
Micic’s role as the main offense conductor with Efes has been quite fruitful not only for himself but also for his team. The Turkish squad is currently at the fourth spot of the EuroLeague standings with 8 – 4 thanks to a 5-0 streak they had in November. That’s already one win more than the 2017-2018 sum of 7 – 23 and an overall record that has already made Efes among the favorites for the playoffs and a possible Final Four contender.
“We have a good number of victories but obviously we still need some time to click together,” Micic said to Eurohoops. “Overall, I feel really good about our capacity as a team. It’s early but we are having a good season. There are many players who contribute to the team. Each player has amazing potential and there’s still progress to be made. I believe that good times are coming for us.”
Apart from letting his quality as a floor-general unfold this season, Micic has been a hit in an aspect that previously was a persistent problem in his game: Shooting.
Prior to 2018-2019, Micic had a career average of 30 percent on 3-pointers but he catapulted his numbers to 48.9 percent on 47 attempts in 12 EuroLeague games so far this season.
“I’m working hard on this. And not only on this. It’s been like that for 5-6 years. Once I noticed what I need to improve in my career. My strengths, and weaknesses. My body. All this is a result of work. It’s not something accidental,” Micic said to Eurohoops.
“I realize how it looks like that from the outside. I’m getting much confidence from my coach and my teammates. This means a lot to me. I’m the youngest point guard in the team and I have a lot of responsibilities.”
Micic’s latest EuroLeague game included a career-high 24 points plus six assists against Olympiacos. Yet the player couldn’t enjoy his performance since it was the Reds that took the victory down the stretch.
“Well, I didn’t know it was a career-high before you told me. Honestly, I’m happier when we win,” Micic reacted.
“I prefer it when my performance helps my team win. Tonight I made crucial turnovers. I’m aware of that. I’m learning. All these are helping me develop as a point guard in the long run. Hopefully, I will be more ready in future situations like in tonight’s game near the end.”