HEADER EMIR PRELDZIC Shooting Guard/Small Forward Fenerbahce Ulker Instanbul, Turkey #55 6:09.0-222 Ljubljana, Slovenia KK Geoplin Slovan, Adriatic League Nogometno Drustvo Triglav Kranj, Slovenia
OVERVIEW Preldzic is a versatile athlete who will likely play small forward if he opts for the NBA, but he has experience at both forward positions in addition to excelling at shooting guard and point guard earlier in his career. With his basketball IQ, ball-handling skills and craftiness on the court, his versatility is certain to be his ticket to the United States.
He was a relative unknown, even in international competition, but that all changed when he was a member of Slovenia's U-20 team at the 2006 European Championships. It was then that scouts began to notice the lanky combo guard, as he produced some very impressive numbers in that competition -- averages of 20.3 points (second-best average in the series), 9.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game for his team that finished in third place.
Preldzic was born in Bosnia, but grew up in Slovenia, eventually became a Slovenian citizen. He played with the cadet team of KK Celik Zenica (Bosnia-Herzegovina) before being signed for the 2004-05 season by Triglav Kranj. In 21 games that year, he averaged 5.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 0.6 steals per game.
The following season, Preldzic joined KD Slovan Ljubljana (Geoplin Slovan) for the 2005-06 season. His time with the Slovenian U-20 squad limited him to just six games with the parent Geoplin Slovan squad, finishing with 32 points (5.3 per game) and 18 rebounds (3.0 per game).
In 2006-07, Preldzic played in 26 games, logging 820 minutes of action for Slovan. He was shifted to small forward and struggled to find his offense early in the season. During the first month of the schedule, he was shooting just 19 percent from 3-point land (7 of 36) and 43 percent from the foul line (10 of 23). What kept him on the court during those rough times was his stellar defensive play.
Preldzic eventually found his stroke again, finishing with averages of 11.3 points (shot 55.4 percent from the field), 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.1 assists per game. He continued to play for Slovenia's U-20 National team in European Championships competition and also played in the 2007 Nike Hoop Summit with the World Selection, in addition to making an appearance in the 2007 Slovenian All-Star Game.
The point forward was again on the move, as he went to Turkey for the 2007-08 season, signing with Fenerbahce Ulker Sports Club Istanbul, leading the team to the 2007-08 Turkish National Championship. He played the 2007 Adriatic League All Star Game and saw action in 58 games with the parent club, shooting 57.6 percent from two-point range. He closed out that year with averages of 5.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
Preldzic began to excel in 2008-09, thanks to the guidance of a youth-friendly coach in Bojan Tanjevic at Fenerbahce. In 51 games, he logged a total of 1,138 minutes of action. He made a career-high 102 two-point field goals (53.7 percent shooting), hitting 3-pointers at a career-best 36.1 percent clip. He also increased his shooting at the foul line, making 73 percent of those shots, compared to 58 percent the previous season.
Preldzic also had career bests in rebounds (221, 4.3 per game), assists 167, 3.3 per game) and steals (50, 1.0 per game). He blocked 16 shots, but his aggression on defense saw him be charged with 122 personal fouls.
2008-09 SEASON Appeared in a total of 51 games at point forward for Fenerbahce Ulker, Instanbul, including 38 in the Turkish League and 13 more in Euroleague competition...Combined to see 1,138 minutes of action, he hit on 102 of 190 two-point field goals (53.7 percent), made a career-high 36.1 percent of his 3-pointers (53 of 147) and also set a career-high with 73.0 percent shooting from the charity stripe (93 of 126) for a total of 455 points (8.9 per game)...Grabbed a career-high 221 rebounds (4.3 per game), as he averaged 3.3 assists (167), 50 steals (1.0 per game) and 16 blocked shots (0.3 per game), all career-highs...Scored in double figures 21 times, generating a career-high 25 points in the Galatasaray contest.
2007-08 SEASON In his first season with Fenerbahce Ulker, Preldzic led the team to the Turkish National Championship and also played the 2007 Adriatic League All Star Game...Saw action in 58 games, hitting on 57.6 percent of his two-point field goals (76 of 132), 33.3 percent of his 3-pointers (45 of 135) and 58.0 percent of his free throws (51 of 88), totaling 338 points (5.8 per game)...Pulled down 157 rebounds (2.7 per game), as he handed out 88 assists (1.5 per game)...Was charged with a career-high 128 personal fouls, but he also had 28 steals (0.5 per game) and six blocked shots.
2006-07 SEASON Preldzic continued to play for Slovenia's U-20 National team in European Championships competition and also played in the 2007 Nike Hoop Summit with the World Selection, in addition to making an appearance in the 2007 Slovenian All-Star Game...The forward appeared in 26 games, logging 820 minutes on the court for KD Slovan Ljubljana (Geoplin Slovan)...Scored 294 points (11.3 per game), as he connected on 55.4 percent of his two-pointers (72 of 130), 30.7 percent of his 3-point attempts (27 of 88) and shot 67.6 percent from the foul line (69 of 102)...Credited with 54 assists (2.1 per game) and 31 steals (1.2 per game)...Blocked nine shots and grabbed 104 rebounds (4.0 per game), as he also had 80 personal fouls.
2005-06 SEASON Preldzic's time with the Slovenian U-20 squad limited him to just six games with the parent Geoplin Slovan squad, finishing with 32 points (5.3 per game) and 18 rebounds (3.0 per game)...Hit on 8 of 15 two-pointers (53.3 percent), made all four free throws and shot 28.6 percent from 3-point range (4 of 14)...Handed out five assists (0.8 per game) with three steals (0.5 per game) and a pair of blocked shots.
2004-05 SEASON Played with the cadet team of KK Celik Zenica (Bosnia-Herzegovina) before being signed for the 2004-05 season by Triglav Kranj...In 21 games, he averaged 5.8 points (122), 2.5 rebounds (52), 0.6 assists (12)and 0.6 steals (13) per game...Blocked four shots, as he hit on 29 of 63 two-point attempts (46.0 percent), 13 of 58 3-pointers (22.4 percent) and 25 of 35 free throws (71.4 percent).
CAREER NOTES Since 2005-06, Preldzic has appeared in 162 games at the league and international level, scoring a total of 1,241 points (7.7 per game)...Made 287 of 530 two-point field goals (54.2 percent), shot 32.1 percent from 3-point range (142 of 442) and hit on 263 of 373 free throws (70.5 percent)...Also totaled 552 rebounds (3.4 per game) to go with 326 assists (2.0 per game), 125 steals (0.8 per game) and 37 blocked shots (0.2 per game)...In two seasons with Fenerbahce Ulker Instanbul, he appeared in 109 games, averaging 7.3 points (793), as he made 55.3 percent of his two-pointers (178 of 322), hit on 98 of 282 3-point field goals (34.8 percent) and connected on 165 of 232 free throws (71.1 percent)...Added 378 rebounds (3.5 per game), 255 assists (2.3 per game), 78 steals (0.7 per game) and 22 blocked shots (0.2 per game) for Fenerbahce.
INJURY REPORT No injuries reported.
PERSONAL Born 9/06/87 in Zenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina..Resides in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
SCOUTING REPORT Positives: A developing talent who can serve as a point forward -- crafty player who knows how to vary his speed to get the defender off balance and draw contact...His improved release and ball rotation have made him an asset at the foul line (improved to 73 percent, compared to 58 percent the previous season)...Shows good court vision and maturity for his age and has been compared to Toni Kukoc because he can play a variety of positions and, with improvement in his shooting technique and range, he could be a viable perimeter threat in the NBA...Injuries and inconsistent play in his team's backcourt in 2008-09 saw Preldzic take on a much larger role, as he was not only the team's top scoring option, but was in charge of bringing the ball up court while also serving as another viable rebounding threat alongside power forward Mirsad Turkcan...Does not have eye-opening figures as a scorer but has a smooth shooting stroke, with a high, quick release and the touch and mechanics to become a scoring threat...Has the basketball IQ to spot open teammates to create opportunities for others...At the three-forward and two-guard spots, he creates mismatches and is quick to take advantage of what the defense gives...Has the balance to fade back and gain separation for his jump shot and has the strong legs to drive through double teams on the way to the rim, demonstrating excellent timing...As a facilitator, he keeps everyone involved in the action, especially with his ability to execute pick-and-rolls...Does not have an explosive initial step, but shows the court quickness to handle pushing the ball up court on the fast break...Impressive rebounder whose 6-foot-9-inch wingspan comes in handy, along with his body control, and he's quite effective getting position on both ends of the ball...Might not have the blazing speed to take on slashing scorers, but stays low in his stance and keeps his hands active when staying in front of perimeter shooters and has improved his timing getting up to contest shots...Will rarely flash by an opponent with his first step, but he uses savvy -- fakes and hesitation moves -- to force the defender to commit early and also knows how to suddenly change speeds...His vision allows him to scan the court and locate open scoring options and knows how to feed the "bigs" underneath coming off the pick-and-roll...Shows awareness as a defender and his low center of gravity and reach help in the passing lanes (50 steals in 50 games last year).
Negatives: More comfortable shooting from medium range and while he does draw contact working inside, he does not do it often enough to be a regular visitor to the foul line (210 chances in his last 109 games, an average of 1.9 attempts per game, averaging 1.5 conversions)...Has good lateral agility and decent court speed, but is slow to recover when a shooter gets a side on him...Not that strong and will get pushed around quite a bit in the paint and when he gets boxed out, he will bounce to the outside, where he then will rush his shot in attempts to get the ball to the basket...Must show better aggression fighting through screens, but has to add muscle tone and increase his strength first, in order to be more effective finishing around the basket...Can lull a defender to sleep with his slow, deliberate dribble, but needs to protect the ball better -- has been turnover prone when in the lane...Good perimeter defender, except when he tires and uses his hands, drawing fouls.
Compares To: NICOLAS BATUM-Portland -- Preldzic is nowhere near the long range shooter that Toni Kukoc was, but like the former Bull, his versatility and point forward skills make him a nice option off the bench. He shows that he is a decent facilitator and like Batum, can apply pressure defense, as well as crash the boards on both ends of the court for a rebound. His game is ideally suited for the European circuit, but he has the athleticism and ability to play a variety of roles that will earn him nice minutes in a rotation. If he can continue to improve his shooting skills, he will eventually force his way into the starting lineup. He might have more to offer an NBA team in a few years, but with his athletic talent, is certainly worth a second-round investment.