Dzanan Musa – Bosnia & Herzegovina
CPP Big Board Ranking: #26 Overall (#7 SF)
Weight: 197 lbs
Age/Birthday: 19 (5/8/99)
Hometown: Bihac, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Team: Cedevita Zagreb
(Brett Siegel – 6/16/18)
Not only is Dzanan Musa one of the youngest international players in this year’s draft class, but he is not a player that will be in Europe much longer. He is a young, raw talent that is ready to come to America and make an immediate impact on his future NBA franchise. Dzanan Musa is a very entertaining prospect because he is a very vocal player and does not shy away from speaking out. Just recently, following a workout with the Denver Nuggets, Dzanan stated, “I think I’m a lottery pick, for sure, but the players here (in the United States) are more exposed than we (Europeans) are. I think we can show one year, two years from now where we belong,” (The Denver Post). Musa is not afraid of the challenge of coming from Europe and being doubted as he even stated that compared to the rest of the players in the draft, he thinks he is a lottery type talent. Confidence is key for young prospects entering the NBA and maybe it is because he has been playing professional basketball in Europe for a few years, but Musa displays a high level of confidence on and off the court. The way he carries himself on and off the court is very business-like and the way he approaches challenges is quite unique. This past season with his Croatian club, Cedevita, Musa was awarded the EuroCup Rising Star Trophy, was named the ABA League Top Prospect, and was named to the All-ABA League Team. Whoever Dzanan Musa has played for, he has had an impact scoring, but has also had an impact encouraging his teammates. He is a very passionate player that plays with his emotions and as a result, makes his teammates confidence rise. Although raw and has room to grow, Dzanan Musa enters the NBA Draft as a first-round caliber talent that is ready to go!
The thing that makes Dzanan Musa special is that he oozes with confidence. Not only is this one thing young-prospects struggle with in their first few years in the NBA, but they can tend to never develop. Not only is he confident in his shooting abilities, pulling up from all over the court in Europe, but he is confident in his teammates as well when passing. He tends to always have a shot, regardless of where his defender is because of his shot radius. Being gifted with the ability to shoot three-pointers is nice, but it is even better when you have the length that he does and the ability to rise over smaller, perimeter defenders. The emotions and passion Musa plays with at only 19 years old makes him look like an NBA veteran and helps him never lose focus from the game itself. He tends to thrive in big moments of the game and is never afraid to have the ball in his hands late in the shot-clock or game. The way he can dribble off one bounce or off a pick-and-roll set reminds me a lot of how Steph Curry throws up these ridiculous looking three-pointers that are regular shots for him. Dzanan Musa took a lot of these shots in Europe and had a lot of success, raising some eyebrows on NBA Scouts.
Dzanan Musa also has a solid game when driving to the net. His first step is very quick and explosive, usually giving him a leg-up on defenders. He is a solid finisher at the rim and is usually hard to stop when he gets moving towards the rim. Although the stats may not show it because of lack of minutes in Euro-ball, Dzanan Musa is also extremely good at getting to the foul line. Not only did this make defenders in Europe play farther back than usually, so they would not foul him, but allowed Musa to have options of driving to the net, shooting a three, or drawing a foul on a jumper. Dzanan Musa has a complete arsenal on the offensive end of the court and is one of the best offensive players I have seen coming out of Europe in a while. On both sides of the court, he is also a very strong rebounder for a wing. He averaged about 3.2 rebounds per game in limited playing time and would translate to about 6.5-7 rebounds a game at the college level. His ability to read shots and position himself for rebounds is above average for his position and his awareness on both ends of the court is extremely high. For teams that undervalue international players, they could be missing out on a diamond in the rough with Dzanan Musa.
One flaw offensively for Musa is that he tries to be Steph Curry a little bit too often. It is great that he can make long-threes and contested jumpers at a higher percentage compared to most people, but teams will most likely not want to see Musa shoot very long threes early in his career. Musa must understand to take advantage of his opportunities and not make plays more difficult than they are. By over-complicating things, Musa can get himself into trouble, leading to silly turnovers and fast-breaks for his opponents. Off the ball, Dzanan Musa also can struggle at times. He did a lot of standing around this season and missed opportunities to come through screens for pull-up threes or jumpers. Without the ball in his hands, it is unknown if his game will translate to the NBA style.
On the defensive end of the court, Dzanan Musa does not give a lack of effort, but does not always give maximum effort. He tends to settle for switches when faced with pick-and-roll opportunities and gets mismatched by a bigger, longer player. In these situations, Musa is not good defensively as he struggles to be an aggressive defender when defending the post. He is not very strong and is susceptible to fouling in the paint. He cannot guard bigs and has trouble defending smaller and quicker guards, so there are questions to who Dzanan Musa will be able to guard once he gets to the NBA. His positioning defensively is poor and tends to always go for the steal instead of playing face-up defense, leading to his opponents beating him and getting easy layups. If Dzanan Musa wants to have an immediate impact in the NBA, he must improve his defensive efficiency and awareness, otherwise, he may be a waste offensive talent on the bench because he is too much of a liability.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Mario Hezonja, a “poor-man’s” Klay Thompson
Although bigger body wise when coming into the NBA in 2015, Mario Hezonja is a perfect comparison for Dzanan Musa when Hezonja was coming out of Europe. When Hezonja was being scouted a few years ago, he was labeled as a very solid shooter with a quick release and not many limitations with his range. Much like Musa his rebounding abilities stick out and tends to get good positioning in the paint for rebounds. The biggest similarity for these two though is how confident they are as shooters. Both Musa and Hezonja show confidence taking a shot from anywhere on the court and do not shy away from the moment. In his three seasons with the Magic, Hezonja has not developed fully into the sharp-shooter he was in Europe, but he is progressively getting better. He shot 34% from deep last season and averaged a career high 9.6 PPG. There were lots of questions surrounding Hezonja’s defensive abilities coming out of Europe in 2015, but has made progress as an off-the-ball defender. I expect Dzanan Musa to make similar strides in his defensive game as did Hezonja.
Now, the reason I say Dzanan Musa is a “poor man’s” Klay Thompson is because of the way he plays offensively. Klay Thompson is not a guy that prefers to dribble around, but is not afraid of taking big shots from any range. Musa is exactly the same, where he prefers to get the ball via a hand-off or off a screen and will shoot from any range. His drive to the basket off his first step reminds me a lot of how Thompson has grown to attack defenders and once again, the confidence is almost identical. Klay Thompson would definitely be Dzanan Musa’s ceiling as an NBA pro. Dzanan Musa is expected to be drafted anywhere from 20-35 in this year’s draft, but I do not see him falling out of the first round. Musa is too good of a player at such a young age for NBA teams to pass up on. If they do, they may regret that decision in a few years down the road!
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