Raduljica often got the call from Larry Drew to sqaure off against the other bearded European big men of the NBA.
Lost and often forgotten in the mania that is Giannis Antetokounmpo was another Bucks’ rookie from across the pond, Miroslav Raduljica. Weighing in at 249 pounds and standing an imposing 7-0 tall, Raduljica was thought to be imported from Serbia last summer to add extra muscle to the otherwise tall and beanpole-thin frontcourt of John Henson and Larry Sanders. Once the curtain of mystery surrounding his game was removed, however, Bucks fans were surprised to observe his graceful low-post game and gentle touch around the rim, especially for a man the size of a smart car.
Putting his pepper spray and taser to rest for good, he signed a two year deal (with a non-guaranteed third year) on July 26 to essentially become the Bucks’ third string center. But early injuries to the two men in front of him on the depth chart, Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia, caused Raduljica to see a few more minutes than perhaps he or Coach Drew expected. He was still often passed over for the likes of Ekpe Udoh (when healthy) or Jeff Adrien (later in the season), though. Much of this was simply Drew’s preference, as the numbers Raduljica put up were fairly solid and deserving of some more meaningful minutes.
*Grades are calculated with the Bucks’ season and team in mind, not the NBA as a whole*
Raduljica passes the eye test any way you look at it on the offensive end of the court. He shot an adequate 54 percent from the field (TS% of 60.3). The high true shooting percentage displays perhaps what impressed me most about his game: his free throw shooting. Over the course of the season, he made 45 of 55 free throw attempts for a percentage of 81.8 overall. He also was a solid offensive rebounder who used his size well to clean up his and his teammates misses in the paint. His efforts resulted in about an offensive rebound for every nine minutes he was on the court.
Raduljica’s passing was spotty with the occasional flash of brilliance. Spending another year learning at “Zaza’s School of Big Man Passing” can only help, though. The Bucks scored 117 points per 100 possessions with Miroslav on the floor, which is a nice upgrade from the team’s overall average of 103 points per 100 possessions.
Much of his production came in garbage time, which the Bucks had plenty of this season, but he was also able to contribute in the few meaningful minutes he received. His signature performance of the year came on December 21st against the Sixers. In a rare game where he received more than 20 minutes, Raduljica shot 5-of-7 from the field and made all four of his free throws. He lead the team to a victory with a +16 rating.
Raduljica’s body size does not help him nearly as much on defense as it does on offense. Having not been blessed with anything more than average athleticism, he doesn’t have the wingspan or vertical leap to be an effective shot-blocker. His best defensive ability is being able to body up physical opposing big man. Unfortunately, he watched Ersan Ilyasova draw charge after charge all year and tried to implement that into his game to no avail, resulting in some of the more obvious flops I witnessed this year. But other than the flops, his most memorable defensive play happened at his own expense, much to the delight of Anthony Davis.
Perhaps the greatest thing that Miroslav Raduljica brought to the American public was his mastery of the selfie.
– Here he is in his younger days
— Peter Myhrer (@TheKingOfChub) May 5, 2014
And here he is this season with his pal Zaza –
Here are Miroslav Raduljica and Zaza Pachulia riding a cable car in San Francisco. pic.twitter.com/aW95MSHBxz
— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) March 24, 2014
And here is a link to his old MySpace to see many more perfect executions of the selfie –
Overall Grade (Seflie grade included) – (B)
In an offseason where the Bucks overpaid for a number of players, they paid just the right price for Miroslav Raduljica. He is set to make another $1.5 million next season, and that’s quality value for what he brings on and off the court. He also seems like a genuinely nice guy which is helpful with a locker room full of young and impressionable prospects. Bringing Raduljica aboard has resulted in many Serbian’s pledging their NBA allegiance to the Bucks, as well.
Between Miroslav and Giannis, the brand of Milwaukee basketball is as international as ever, and that is an exciting prospect for a small market team in the Midwest.