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Breaking Down How Balsa Koprivica Translates to the NBA

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2021 NBA G League Elite Camp Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

Balsa Koprivica is a big man through and through. The 7-foot-1 center played with Cade Cunningham at Montverde in High School as well as top-five pick Scottie Barnes at Florida State. He was not on the mainstream radar much during the draft cycle, but he wasn’t entirely undeserving of being drafted. Balsa was a consensus top-50 recruit on RSCI sites prior to college, and he made a huge leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Stats

9.1PPG, 0.8 APG, 5.6 RPG, 62% TS, 21.9% USG, 7.9% BLK%

Immediate Skills

More than anyone else in Detroit’s draft class, Balsa is raw. He does not have a lot of translatable skills, and he has a lot of developing to do to ever truly become a player in the league. Koprivica played only 20 minutes per game at FSU and was not a featured part of the offense. Still, there are some paths to Koprivica having success in the league early on if some things go well for him.

Can’t Teach Size

Koprivica’s first and only skill that translates immediately is his size on defense. Balsa is 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, and he has some feel for how to use that length on defense. Florida State is elite at developing defensive talent, and Koprivica could become the next in that lineage. He protects the rim in drop coverage at a solid rate, and his length can deter cutters and drivers. He’s also not a bad athlete, and that helps him get vertical at the rim. He still has issues knowing where he needs to be in defensive rotations, and he fails to keep tabs on both ball-handler and roller in pick-and-roll coverage, but those defensive issues are the type that tends to get ironed out in the NBA. He could potentially be a solid rim protector early on in his career.

Koprivica is very unlikely to see NBA minutes early in his career. He should be expected to spend lots of time in the G-League, or even overseas if the Pistons decide to stash him. A player like Balsa simply does not do much at an NBA level at this point and needs development to really be deserving of NBA minutes.

Potential Skills

Balsa is all potential right now. He was drafted because of his frame with some feel and movement skills, and his NBA role will depend entirely on how he develops.

Rim Protection

The first potential skill is elite rim protection. His length and movement skills are solid enough that if he develops instincts as a rim protector, he could be a very good defensive big man. Big men are the most valuable defensive players in the NBA because of their ability to affect every single play on the court. When thinking of Koprivica’s ceiling, it is one day taking away the rim from the opponent.

The most important thing for him to develop this skill is real game reps. That almost certainly will not come at the NBA level, so the Pistons would be smart to stash him overseas or develop him in the G-League for a year or two. There have been plenty of success stories with bigs developing defensively in the G-League, such as Rudy Gobert, and Balsa could potentially be the next G-League success story if all goes right.

Shooting

The next potential skill Koprivica can develop is his shooting. The indicators from college are not entirely there, he shot only one three this season at FSU and shot a good but not great 68.9% at the line. However, there has always been sneaky shooting upside with Balsa. In high school, he consistently shot behind the arc, and many believed he could be a stretch five if he continues developing his shot. He has great touch around the rim and simply has not been asked to stretch it out much in his post-high school career. There is a chance that Balsa will be a solid pick-and-pop threat, which would drastically raise his offensive ceiling.

Roll Gravity

The final skill Balsa could develop is roll gravity. At 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Koprivica has a solid catch radius and he moves pretty well for that height. He has an OK post-game that could help him score on quick hitters, and he could overall be a very solid scorer around the rim. His touch can help make up for his lack of elite vertical pop, but he is not an awful vertical athlete either and he could be a solid lob threat in open space. Koprivica, like Garza, has a path to success offensively by developing into a well-rounded roll threat who can capitalize on the advantages created by guys like Cade and Killian.

Balsa Koprivica is all potential, but his size and feel could make him a very good rim protector one day. His offense will almost certainly be limited to him playing as a roll-man, but he has the potential to be very good at that. That would make him a solid two-way center with some starter equity, especially if the shooting comes around. Balsa has a long way to go, but there is something to work with here.