How does Ivica Dukan survive year after year for the Chicago Bulls? The bio of Ivica shows he has been with the Bulls organization for 25 years scouting international players and occasionally scouting in the US in colleges and the NBA. He's a man who was with the team through the Bulls dynasty years under Jerry Krause and a man who has survived the regimes since then. The Bulls organization are known for their loyalty sometimes over competence and no one represents this more than Dukan w... [read more]
How does Ivica Dukan survive year after year for the Chicago Bulls?
The bio of Ivica shows he has been with the Bulls organization for 25 years scouting international players and occasionally scouting in the US in colleges and the NBA. He's a man who was with the team through the Bulls dynasty years under Jerry Krause and a man who has survived the regimes since then. The Bulls organization are known for their loyalty sometimes over competence and no one represents this more than Dukan who has survived years, hard times and multiple regime changes.
His son Duje Dukcan was a non-descript role player for the Wisconsin Badgers coming off the bench mostly as a college player. After college he played in Croatia before that didn't pan out for him. The fact that he wasn't able to cut it in the low level Croatian League didn't prevent the Bulls from signing him to their D-League affiliate where he currently resides, working for an organization known to put friendships and relationships before competency.
He's often credited with discovering Toni Kukoc but this is very misleading, by the time Kukoc was selected in the second round of the 1990 draft by the Bulls he was already established as one of the best talents in Europe. Kukoc was known as the European Magic Johnson and was a bright light in European basketball. The only problem still existing at that point was how much European players wanted to come to the NBA and take on that challenge in their career. Moving to the NBA in 1990 still meant abandoning your home countries international representation, something few where willing or able to do at that point. The story goes that Dukan was instrumental in the Bulls signing Kukoc because of the relationship between him and his fellow countryman.
Dukan's record of scouting and the Bulls results of drafting European players have not been good over the years. The team has missed on almost all of their European picks and one of the few bright spots was the forgettable Kornel David who played a key role on some of the worst teams in Bulls history. Andres Nocioni who was a nice role player as the Bulls finally re-established themselves in the mid-2000s after years of poor play and lottery selections. Again in the case of Nocioni he was well established as one of the best players in Europe when he came to the NBA so he deserves little credit for signing a player of his caliber. The case for Dukan is made worse when you consider that he wasn't the director of international scouting when the Bulls selected Kukoc in 1990.
A review of the international players the Bulls have drafted in the last 25 years…
2 (31) 1995 Dragan Tarlac: The Bulls finally select an international player after years of passing on players like Predrag Danilovic and Zeljko Rebraca, players that should have been well known considering they played in his former homeland of Yugoslavia. Tarlac was an absolute failure for the Bulls. Too stiff, un-athletic and unskilled he was obviously not up to being an NBA player. He finally came to the NBA in 2001 and averaged 14mpg 2.4ppg 2.8rbpg while shooting 39.4% from the field. PGs Tyus Edney and Eric Snow as well as current Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg were picked in the draft after the Bulls selected Tarlac.
2 (57) 1997 Robert Duenes: The Bulls embrace of un-athletic players extends to its international drafting. Duenes was a 218cm center who was stiff and lacking physical skills that had a non-descript European career mostly coming off the bench for his teams in Spain. He never made it to the NBA.
1 (24) 2000 Dalibor Bagaric: We have a pattern immerging here. Bagaric couldn't play at all, not only was he an embarrassment in the NBA he was a minor role player in Europe. He played 3 years in the NBA, his best year he averaged 3.7ppg 40.4% from the field and played awful defense. Picked behind him where former Yugoslavians Marko Jaric and Primoz Brezec both who went on to have long NBA careers.
1 (13) 2006 Thabo Sefolasha : He turned into a solid pro who has had a long NBA career as a role player. Kyle Lowry and Rajon Rondo where both available that year but the Bulls didn't have a great need at PG at that time.
2 (36) 2008 Omer Asik: He was a key part of the Bulls bench mob for the Bulls. After the front office guaranteed they would match any offers, they didn't and let him walk to the Rockets for no compensation. The Rockets eventually flipped him for an unprotected first round pick from the Pelicans.
1 (17) 2010 Kevin Saraphin: a non-descript role player who bounced around the NBA who was moved along with Kirk Hinrich for cap space… Immediately picked after him was Eric Bledsoe and Avery Bradley.
1 (16) Jusuf Nurkic: Bulls drafted Nurkic and Gary Harris and immediately traded them for the rights to Doug McDermott who has not exactly panned out for the Bulls. Players available when the Bulls drafted where Dario Saric, Zach LaVine, Clint Capela, Bojan Bogdanovic to name a few, all better options for the team.
2 (48) Paul Zipser: A player the Bulls are high on but once again appears to be a low ceiling, low floor type of a player who is likely to never to develop into anything more than a role player in the NBA.
Some of the international players the Bulls missed on over those years included Manu Ginobili, Gordan Giricek, Mehmet Okur, ZaZa Pachulia, Goran Dragic, Rudy Gobert to name just a few…
BiH born players in the NBA Zubac, Bender, Bogdanovic, Teletovic and Nurkic the season so far! Ivica Zubac: Brandon Ingram was the second pick in the draft; Ivica Zubac was a second round pick in the same draft. Zubac has measurably outplayed Ingram so far even though he is still only 19 years old, the same age as Ingram and has faced a bigger challenge in stepping from Mega Leks to the NBA. Zubac has had some eye opening games which at times he has flashed as the best player on the cour... [read more]
BiH born players in the NBA Zubac, Bender, Bogdanovic, Teletovic and Nurkic the season so far!
Ivica Zubac: Brandon Ingram was the second pick in the draft; Ivica Zubac was a second round pick in the same draft. Zubac has measurably outplayed Ingram so far even though he is still only 19 years old, the same age as Ingram and has faced a bigger challenge in stepping from Mega Leks to the NBA. Zubac has had some eye opening games which at times he has flashed as the best player on the court like the other day when he had 15pts in 21min going 7-11fg 6rbs 2ass 1blk against the Bucks. In 21 games for the Lakers he has averaged 14mpg 6ppg 3.9rbpg .6aspg .9blks while shooting 51.4% from two and 80% from the FT line. In the D-League he has played in 13 games averaging 29mpg 15.6ppg 9.6rbpg 1.3aspg 1blk while shooting 59.6% from two, 36.4% from three and 82.9% from the FT line. He is quickly moving into a position of being a difficult matchup for other teams coming off the bench for the Lakers.
Dragan Bender: Bender's season recently ended after suffering a serious ankle injury. He had a difficult transition to the NBA but that was expected based upon his background and experience coming into the season. Dragan is extremely young having turned 19 after the season began and has a high level of skills along with being 213cm. Dragan played in 38 games averaging 13mpg 3.2ppg 2.2rbpg shooting 46.5% from two, 32.1% from three and 37.5% from the FT line. He struggled adjusting to the speed, athleticism and rules of the NBA. He looks like he has a major curve to get around before he finds himself a productive rotation player in the NBA; clearly the skills are there however.
Bojan Bogdanovic: Bogdanovic is putting up the best numbers of his career playing on one of the worst teams in the NBA. It has allowed him to increase his minutes and touches and he has had some excellent games and has proven he belongs playing in the NBA. His points per 40 is excellent and he has shown that with increased minutes he has evened out his ineffective stretches in his game and has made himself a consistent presence in the court. In 53 games he has averaged 27mpg 14.3ppg 3.5rbpg 1.6aspg while shooting 50.3% from two, 36.2% from three and 87.5% from the FT line.
Mirza Teletovic: Mirza has struggled in his transition to the Bucks this year. He started slow, moved into a bigger role and then has struggled lately getting decent minutes with the team lately. The team has struggled to defend and Mirza has taken the brunt of the blame from the coaching staff, even if publicly they have been supportive of him. Even when he isn't hitting 3s his deep range open things up on the floor for his teammates. With the recent injury to Jabari Parker, Mirza should get more of a chance to play minutes with the team. He's played 43 games averaging 17mpg 6.9ppg 2.5rbpg .8aspg while shooting 48.6% from two, 34.5% from three and 78.8% from the FT line.
Jusuf Nurkic: Nurkic is struggling with the rise of Nikola Jokic who is averaging 16ppg 8.5rbpg 4.2aspg in limited minutes. The team tried to pair Nurkic at center and Jokic at power forward but that lineup just didn't work and now Nurkic is coming off the bench. Nurkic is an emotional player, who has been trying his best to be a good soldier through the whole transition but it seems likely that he will need a new landing spot soon before the situation become untenable. He's played in 45 games averaging 18mpg 8ppg 5.8rbpg 1.2aspg .8blks while shooting 50.8% from two and 49.6% from the FT line.
Getting to know Leo Svete (195-G, college: IUPUI) an Interview with the star of KK Radnicki Gorazde! Leo Svete has been key addition to the club KK Radnicki Gorazde not missing a beat after losing Keith Bowman last year, who is having an amazing season in Italy this year, along with two other Americans. It seemed likely that repeating last year's success would be a difficult proposition for the club. With the addition of Leo and a few other tweaks to the roster the team has been even mo... [read more]
Getting to know Leo Svete (195-G, college: IUPUI) an Interview with the star of KK Radnicki Gorazde!
Leo Svete has been key addition to the club KK Radnicki Gorazde not missing a beat after losing Keith Bowman last year, who is having an amazing season in Italy this year, along with two other Americans. It seemed likely that repeating last year's success would be a difficult proposition for the club. With the addition of Leo and a few other tweaks to the roster the team has been even more successful this year. The team has really bought into Hasan Rikalo and his coaching style, philosophy and it has really paid off for the club. The team is getting prepared for the second half of the season and barring any unforeseen circumstances appears to be the team to beat when the A2 playoffs start. I got the chance to talk to Leo about his basketball experiences and background and I came away impressed. Everything I had heard about the player with his coach and teammates was very positive but I came away from the interview even more impressed with the young man beyond the basketball court. Here is the interview.
My name is Leo Svete and I am from Indiana. I have a bachelor's degree in communications at IUPUI. I come from a basketball family because my father played and coached college basketball and my sister played at the University of Florida. I am 23 years old and this is my rookie season in Bosnia as a professional. I love the game of basketball and want to coach college or professionally when I retire from playing. I am a very blessed to do what I love for a living and that is playing basketball. I have set high goals for myself and work hard to achieve them every day.
Q) How old were you when you became interested in basketball? A) I was around six years old. I always wanted to have a ball in my hands after watching my dad coach my sister. When I was growing up, she was aiming towards playing division one college basketball and it inspired me.
Q) When did you become serious with the sport and realize it could be more than just a hobby? A) At age 12 I stopped playing football and baseball to really focus on basketball 12 months a year and that consisted of going to a lot of camps, playing with a lot of travel teams and just training every day.
Q) What do you consider your strengths to be on the court? A) My biggest strength is how well I shoot the ball beyond the 3pt arc. I am a smart player and my IQ for the game is high. At 6'5 with my size I can play positions 1-4 and that gives me an advantage. Q) What do you feel you need to do to take your game to the next level? A) To really take my game to next level I need to increase my athleticism more by getting quicker and jumping higher. I also need to improve my dribbling skills at the 2 guard position by creating for myself more offensively.
Q) What has been your most memorable moment on the court? A) My most memorable moment on the court so far has been playing against Purdue University in college on National Television and hitting four three pointers in 2 minutes.
Q) What do you think about basketball in BiH? A) The basketball in BiH is played at a very high level. Many players are committed to the game and have great talent. They play extremely hard and do not take possessions off.
Q) Who was your favorite player growing up and why? A) My favorite player growing up would be Lebron James because his will to win. He does whatever it takes for his team. He is a great leader and most importantly a great teammate.
Q) What has your experience been like being in Bosnia for the first time? A) My experience has been more than I could ask for to say the least. I have made amazing relationships with people here. It has been a great experience and I have learned a lot from it on and off the court.
Q) How do you like the food? A) I absolutely love this food here. I thought I missed the food in the U.S but I was wrong. Burek, Gulas and Cevapi are my favorite meals. The sweets are so delicious here I crave them all the time, but I have to watch how much I eat of those.
Q) What has been your favorite place you have visited in Bosnia so far and why? A) I love going to Sarajevo when I get free time because it is an amazing city. Gorazde is a small town and I am used to being in the big city.
Q) How have the club and your teammates been so far? Has the town embraced you? A) My teammates are all great guys. They know how to make me laugh at the most serious times. They also are the most hardworking guys I have ever been around. Our team chemistry is why we have seen so much success thus far.
Q) If you could tell Americans what you like most about Bosnia and why? A) Two things I love most about Bosnia is the food and how welcoming they make me feel. Where ever I go around the country, they are always being so kind to me.
Q) What has surprised you the most since you arrived? A) Gorazde surprised me the most because it is a town that cannot be described without personally visiting here.
Q) Besides friends and family what do you miss most about the US? A) I miss most is having my own car to drive places. Gorazde is a small town, but walking everywhere during the day becomes a little tiring.
Q) Is there anyone in the NBA that you try to model your game after? A) Klay Thompson, we play the same position and play similar.
Q) Do you follow the Bosnian National team, any other clubs in BiH? A) Yes, I follow the national team and all their success. I also have seen many premier league games this season and played against a lot of A1 teams.
Q) Your thoughts on the young talent Adi Alikadic? A) Adi is one of the most talented young players I have seen before. His ceiling is very high and I see him ending up in the Euroleague as he gets older. It has been a pleasure to play alongside Gorazde's hometown hero. Going against him in practice has made me a better player.
Q) Hasan Rikalo has an excellent reputation in BiH, how has it been working with him so far? A) Coach, is one of my most favorite coaches I have played for in my entire basketball career. He is constantly pushing me to develop my game day after day. He has me work out three times a day and that is why I have seen much success being here. He never lets me get complacent with myself and is harder on me than anyone. We have built a huge relationship and me returning to play for his team again in the near future is very possible.
Q) What's the biggest difference between basketball in the US and in Bosnia? A) The European rules took time to adjust to. In the first game I traveled five times so that was something I really had to work on.
Q) Who is your favorite NBA team? A) Cleveland Cavs
Q) What is the most important lesson you have learned through basketball? A) The biggest lesson I have learned is never take it for granted and always respect the game because you never know which game will be your last.
Q) If there is something you could tell young kids who want to play basketball seriously, what advice would you give them? A) My advice would be is that if you want to be successful at the highest level you need to outwork everyone. Never let someone tell you that cannot achieve your goals. If times get hard do not quit and work harder.
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