By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Panathinaikos completed the signing of Miroslav Raduljica, acquiring the first heavy center with such talent in offense after Nikola Pekovic.
Miroslav Raduljica is yet another product of the FMP academy. He joined the first team at the age of 17 and after five years of trying and learning as a loan, at 22 he had an amazing season that was his passport for talks with the biggest European teams. In the summer of 2010 several Euroleague teams made offers with Olympiacos of the newly arrived Dusan Ivkovic getting close to his acquisition (along with the also young Nemanja Bjelica). In the end though, Radjulica signed with a team whose jersey he barely wore.
Efes was the highest bidder offering him a five-year contract, but Velimir Perasovic deemed that he wasn’t ready for that level and decided to loan him out to Alba shortly after the start of the season. His numbers were good (10 points, 3,5 rebounds), but not enough to keep him in Istanbul the following season. He was loaned out once again. This time to Partizan, where he was even better (12,2 points and 5,5 rebounds per game), but the following season Oktay Mahmuti loaned him out yet again, to Azovmash, where he was improved.
With 14,2 points and 5,9 rebounds per game Raduljica decided to get released from Efes and sought to make the big leap in his career. The Milwaukee Bucks offered him a contract, but he had few playing minutes (9,7 minutes in 48 games overall) in the Bucks’ worst season in recent history.
The tournament that catapulted his career
His career took off last September when under the directions of Sasa Djordjevic he led the Serbian national team to second place in the Mundobasket. He had 13 points and 4,6 rebounds in 21 minutes of playing time and showed that he’s one of the best European centers.
After the end of the Mundobasket he was still without a team and he received several tempting offers. But he chose to sign a contract with the Chinese team, Shandong Lions, for 1,5 million dollars. He left after three months, receiving 1,2 million dollars and once again sought a contract in the NBA and Europe. He signed two 10-day contracts with the Minnesota Timberwolves and since the end of January he trained on his own.
Prediction: A juggernaut in the paint
Panathinaikos decided to invest in him upon the recommendation of Sasa Djordjevic’s, the coach that helped him find his best self. If it’s true that the quality of a team is determined by the playmaker and the center, then the additions of Calathes and Raduljica in the “greens” are a guarantee that the quality will surely be high.
The “greens” wanted to replace Esteban Batista with a better player, who will be able to take better advantage of Calathes and Diamantidis and they did splendidly by acquiring the player with the biggest offensive talent in the paint after Nikola Pekovic.
Raduljica has some amazing moves in the paint with his back against the basket and he can “immobilize” opposing defenders with his back against them. He can work with his teammates ideally in pick-and-roll situations and to finish plays with his fast – considering his size – rolling in the paint.
Defensively he’s not as effective when he faces bigmen with fast feet and athletic qualities. In short, he can’t defend over the rim and when he faces such players he will have to be in the same line-up with an athletic teammate (Gist, for instance) in order to make up for this weakness of his.
Panathinaikos can make the most of his talent in offense and cover up his defensive weaknesses. The presence of Djordjevic, with whom he will collaborate once again in the Eurobasket this year, guarantees that Raduljica’s adjustment period in the team will be short. Raduljica can definitely be Panathinaikos’s point of reference in the paint.