Earlier this week, the Kings acquired Filip Petrušev and cash from the Clippers after they received him as part of the trade that sent James Harden and PJ Tucker to LA. In return, Sacramento gave up the draft rights to Luka Mitrovic, a 30-year-old who was the last pick in the 2015 draft.
As reports indicate, the Kings intend to evaluate the 23-year-old Petrušev as they have one roster spot open.
Getting the Serbian big man for essentially nothing is a Monte McNair move. Prior to last season’s deadline, the general manager managed to snag Kessler Edwards in exchange for the draft rights to the aging French player David Michineau.
Edwards made an impact last year and is on the roster this season, but will Petrušev be able to be nearly as impactful?
Before coming to any form of a conclusion, here’s a little about Filip Petrušev.
(First, feel free to check out this video from BasketNews detailing some specifics about Petrušev’s game back when it appeared he was soon moving to the NBA.)
Between 2019 and 2020, Petrušev played two seasons at Gonzaga prior to playing three seasons in Europe, most recently for KK Crvena zvezda in Belgrade. In those three years in Europe, he averaged over 12 points per game, shooting over 41% from three-point range.
Amid his European tenure, he was drafted 50th overall in 2021 by the Philadelphia 76ers.
At 6’11” and 234 lbs., a quick glance at Petrušev indicates he could be, at best, a stretch big in the NBA, most likely as a center.
He was often used in post up situations. Because he lacks considerable strength, he would make an effort to turn these into face up situations, trying to utilize spin moves and finesse to score.
That’s pretty much how he scores on his own. When considering how his game fits in with the NBA, it’s unlikely he’d be given these opportunities. Not only is it a little out of date with the current league, but Petrušev is not gifted with the kind of athleticism or burst that would allow him to succeed among the world’s best players.
Also, while there isn’t a ton of tape immediately available of him on the internet, he does seem to really favor his right hand, trying to get shots up with the dominant side in predictable fashion, but he was rarely hurt by it due to his vertical size. The NBA will not be so kind.
If there’s a world where Petrušev makes an impact in the league, it will be as a catch-and-shoot big to space the floor. He shot well from the outside in his years in Europe and his shot form is pretty smooth and without a lot of wasted movement.
Petrušev posted efficient shooting clips in catch-and-shoot situations both from deep and the mid-range. He could be a pick-and-pop option, but beyond putting the shot up, it’s unlikely he could do much damage trying to attack the lane because he’s known to avoid contact as well as for trying to pull from a small bag of tricks that mostly show up as unimpressive spins.
As an off-ball offensive player, he has a bit of a knack for finding open space when defenses close in on offensive threats. There’s some decent awareness about cut timing and direction when defenses drift away from him. So long as he is put in a position to put up high-percentage looks inside, he can probably be depended on in that regard, especially since he does have solid touch on close shots and floaters.
However, his cuts are not hard cuts and he more or less coasts into open space.
What’s really a dampener on his chances in the best league is his defense, which appears to be nowhere near the standards of Mike Brown and company, nor most NBA coaching staffs for that matter.
Petrušev did not receive a lot of public positivity from his most recent head coach, Duško Ivanović, who is apparently defensive-minded. In fact, if anything, he was frequently called out for his lacking defense.
On that end of the floor, Petrušev is always susceptible to lapses, often losing sight of his man. Off-ball, he rarely keeps his man close, has subpar reaction time, and takes some terrible routes through and around screens, making him a liability in terms of defensive presence.
He’s tall, but he does not have much springiness or length to him, so he doesn’t really block a lot of shots. And his lack of strength allows opponents to bully him down low.
Additionally, his mediocre ability to handle physical contact likely makes him a weaker rebounder than his size suggests. He only averaged about 5 rebounds per game in Europe.
In all, there probably isn’t much, if any, hope for Filip Petrušev in terms of making an impact with this year’s Sacramento Kings.
Kessler Edwards, after all, isn’t even an adequate comparison because Edwards, unlike Petrušev, has NBA experience, true athleticism, and legitimate length. Not to mention Edwards makes his money on the defensive end.
Nor is there a ton to be excited about anything down the line for Petrušev, but to be fair, he is still 23 and the Kings got him for essentially nothing.
Only half of his $1.1 million deal is guaranteed this year, and he’d have to be on the roster in early January for it to be fully guaranteed.