Dzanan Musa needs no introduction in basketball community. Bosnian talent quickly emerged in FIBA youth tournaments as NBA prospect thanks to his well rounded game, absolutely top notch scoring instincts, swagger and highly competitive spirit. His 2nd place in rankings of 1999 generation was as clear as #1 spot for Luka Doncic. Musa joined Cedevita at the age of 15 and became 9th the youngest player in history to debut in Euroleague.
THE PROGRESS THIS SEASON
It’s hard to call it making a jump or great development. It is more of a natural progression and next year stats that are visible below can possibly be even better if Musa stayed in Europe. It is hard to rely offensively on 17-18 yo player no matter how talented he is in solid Eurocup team or ABA Liga contender. His minutes and contribution last season was very good anyway and things he is doing now are only proving that he is arriving to right role in right place.
*stats at the end of March
Dzanan spends majority of time with the ball in his hands so his 6’9 in shoes is super desirable for a guard/wing like him. His length and strength are definitely not game changers. However thanks to height and improved upper frame it’s still acceptable overall level. What may concern executives on the highest basketball level is that Musa lacks more than average explosiveness or bounce as well as his hunched shoulders. It definitely limits in considerable degree his potential impact in NBA.
Clearly elite skill in Musa arsenal. It contains ability to make extremely tough shots which I believe translate for every lever and gym worldwide. Even if kept in front still finds a way to put the ball in the net. Not only size alone but also instincts, flair and confidence combination work miracles in this category. Besides he draws plenty of fouls (6.07 per 36 in ABA).
Weakness which is not a big flaw anyway regarding the effects, can be found in choosing driving direction which is very left side heavy. Maybe also in lack of cutting as he clearly prefers to get the job done with the ball in his hands. Despite average explosiveness Dzanan has a really long strides which help him get to the rim. Moreover can use contact for his advantage and displays solid hangtime. He is willing to take scoring burden on his shoulders and really likes isolation which are about 10% of his offense. However he tends not to share the ball in this kind of plays which sometimes end up as finishing with questionable selection. Another close to elite asset is his pick and roll scoring ability. He has solid array of floaters, lay ups or even pull ups. Can also read the ongoing situations to keep defender on his hip and attack to the rim with good timing. On the other hand producing for others in P&R has flashes but is still not the very natural or polished. Like every scorer he is very opportunistic in transition. Musa can handle the ball at full speed and never misses a chance to get easy bucket as a trailer.
His stroke has ups and downs. He can hit the big shot but is definitely not a specialized player in this category. Makes occasional stepback jumpers, gets it off with good range or punishes bad P&R defense given time and space but is not overly reliable and doesn’t always get great balance & repeatable motion.
He is not exceptional ball handler but still more than solid and at times can put defenders on skates.
All previously mentioned abilities like long strides, touch on runners and timing help him to excel in attacking closeouts.
At youth categories we have also seen him post up opponents ocassionaly. It is not out of question to see it happen more often next years on pro level after full physical adjustment with his positional size.
In my eyes it’s a little bit less concerning than general opinion. Lockdown defender is obvious antonym in his case but he doesn’t have to be type of player who will get punished often and easily especially after he grows into his frame and sees more pride to take on defensive side of the court (can he do it though?). Foot speed is not that bad when he digs in and sits down in proper stance. If effort is there and while teamed up with big who possess decent mobility even P&R D can look ok. The huge problem is how rarely he does it (put in work). Positional size definitely helps Dzanan to contribute on this end as he can really contest the shots. It is hard to create separation against him on small field and he has a good fundamentals to rotate at right moment.
On the other hand despite solid stretches when he is aggressive it seems like he is still learning the intensity and investing more energy on defense than he used to as a superior scoring machine in every youth setting he ever played in. Lack of concentration and questionable flashing for steals / easy opportunities in transiton or pointless deep double teams happens way too often.
If he applies a change to his overly offensive oriented mindset and will be willing to divide energy into two way more balanced contribution, I see a chance not to become as minus defender as many people project him to be on NBA level.
Musa will take the role of scoring wing with positional size. His somewhat mambalike mentality which makes him borderline overconfident and willing to take any challenge may allow him to establish position in the league with time. Also steady shooting performance, defensive adjustment, pushing physical limits and less ball handling heavy style are definitely things that can contribute to the success in NBA. I don’t see his transition being super smooth but he can find a niche in flawless multipositional offense given his versitality, attacking mode and finishing abilities.