By Panos Katsiroumpas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year Miroslav Raduljica experienced all kinds of emotions with Panathinaikos. From glorification to utter disappointment, his zero participation in the last two months and his expected dismissal since Argyris Pedoulakis was the one left on the bench and essentially left him out of the team.
His new team, Olimpia Milano, gives him a fresh chance to prove his quality as a player. The Italians have a tradition including on their roster big men with similar characteristics in recent years: at first it was Barac, last year it was another ex-green, Esteban Batista, and this year it’s Raduljica. The truth is that Armani’s team spends a pile of money every year, but fails to find an identity in their game and a roster that will be a main body for many years. The presence of the Serbian center is an enigma since in order for the Italian team to utilize him he needs specific components that he’s still looking for.
He launched his career with FMP Belgrade before getting transferred to Efes in 2010. Basically, he never really played for the Turkish team, which constantly loaned him out. During this time he passed through Alba Berlin, Partizan and the Ukrainian Azovmash Mariupol.
In 2013 he made the big leap across the Atlantic and got a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks where he was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s teammate. The time he got was minimal, something that forced him to look elsewhere for the next stop in his career. He went all the way to China, passed through Minnesota, and in 2015 he signed with Panathinaikos, having the most productive season of his career, with almost 14 points per game. He’s had two great tournaments with the national team of Serbia in the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 EuroBasket.
What he can offer
Raduljica is a special case of player. The team has to take advantage of his strong points to the fullest and expose him as little as possible to the characteristics of the game in which he lacks. He possesses a wide variety of moves inside the post, while if he has good creators on the team then he can perform wonderfully in the pick-and-roll. After all, we’ve seen this clearly with the Serbian national team where he has a formidable partnership with Teodosic. In other words, what Raduljica needs are teammates who have a good feel of the court and the ability to pass at the right time. In Milano, Cinciarini can play this role and in some cases, Simon. Gentile is not known for his altruism, while Milan’s team in general exhibits chronic problems in creation, something that is expected to make Raduljica’s progress there harder.
Of course, because of his class in offense, he might be able to make the difference through his game in the post, but generally, it’s a shame if his team cannot utilize him through pick-and-rolls too. The defense on the other hand, is a more difficult assignment for Olimpia’s coaching staff. The Serbian center has obvious problems playing pick-and-roll defense, whether that requires switches or fast recovering. No matter what coach Djordjevic tried last year, it was not enough to hide this drawback, since in every defensive situation he was unable to respond, something that became even more apparent in the series against Laboral.
Essentially, what is required is a consistent team effort in order to hide the Serb’s weaknesses, something that isn’t easy however, since there are no defensive annihilators on the team, nor are there players who can close out spaces with their speed and explosiveness. At this point, it’s not clear in my mind what Repesa wants to do with Raduljica, so the coming year acquires a special interest for precisely this reason.