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The curious case of Boban Marjanovic


Boban Marjanovic is one of the tallest centers in NBA history and scores with ease for the Los Angeles Clippers. However, it’s seemingly impossible for him to find the right fit in the modern NBA.

Historically, NBA giants well above 7’0″ haven’t worked out too well aside from guys like Yao Ming, Mark Eaton, Gheorghe Muresan and Ralph Sampson. Even when those talents do succeed to a certain extent, their careers are rarely ever greater than 8-10 seasons, simply because bodies that big aren’t built for the wear and tear of the NBA.

At 7’3″ and 290 pounds, Boban Marjanovic is one of the most efficient players of all time purely because of his ability to drop in easy buckets down low.

However, because of his inability to move laterally and defend anywhere outside of the paint, the Serbian giant never gets to see the floor for more than 10 minutes per game each season. He played just 8.3 minutes per game for the Los Angeles Clippers this past season.

Scary projected statistics

Boban Marjanovic is pretty close to unstoppable down low offensively if he’s given the minutes. He’s got a soft touch inside the paint on turn-around lay-ins and rarely gets blocked. On top of that, being the tallest player in the NBA and having an absurd 7’10” wingspan certainly warrants above-average rebounding ability.

Per 36 minutes last season, Marjanovic averaged a breathtaking 25.4 points, 18.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks. Per 100 possessions, it was an even more ridiculous 34.3 points, 25.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks.

When the Serbian giant is in the game, he’s going to score down low and grab rebounds. However, despite the efficiency and sheer potential, Marjanovic will likely never get over 10 minutes per contest and may not ever see a consistent reserve role. As many points as he’ll score, he will likely give up the same amount or even more on the other end.

Unlike previous and current NBA giants like Mark Eaton, Kristaps Porzingis and Manute Bol, Marjanovic is not an elite defender or shot-blocker — something these types of players are generally known for.

The entire video consists of inside layups or dunks, both contested an uncontested. One highlight video is often never enough to really showcase a player’s true talents, but Marjanovic is a completely different story. You’ll rarely see an outside shot or elite post move, but regardless, he can score and rebound the basketball with not much else to show.

Not a good fit for the modern NBA

As more and more big men and even entire teams shift their game to the perimeter, a paint-oriented player like Marjanovic becomes more of a liability. Inside the paint, he holds his own and can warrant minutes if he’s able to stay down there for the majority of the game.

However, as soon as he’s sucked out into a pick-and-roll situation, he can almost never stay with his man. He’s got virtually no lateral quickness and smaller guards and forwards alike can get to the rim with ease or find the open big man that Marjanovic couldn’t chase for an open jump shot.

Because most big men can now connect on their attempts from beyond the arc, this is essentially a guaranteed bucket for the most part for other teams. While he’s certainly got his uses offensively, Boban Marjanovic is not a player that can play against every team and is situational type of guy. Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz allowed for him to play more minutes this season due to a lack of big men that stretch beyond the paint.

For those games, he was matched up against Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert, who don’t generally extend beyond the paint and hit jump shots. At some point in the future, NBA teams could have full lineups of athletic players who can do everything and someone like Marjanovic will not be able to last for too long.

A solid player but few uses

I’m in no way suggesting that the 7’3″ friendly giant is a bad player. His offensive game is impressive because of his height and it’s hard to blame him for being a liability outside of the paint when his legs are that long.

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He’s got his uses in the league and he’ll likely be in the NBA for at least a few more years. It’s hard to say that he’ll ever be a consistent reserve, but he can provide easy buckets offensively when a team really needs it and will happily provide for any team that wants him. A lot of Clippers fans understand this and are still happy to have him regardless.

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