Roko Prkačin Scouting Report

Photo: Cibona/Ivan Santro

Background

Roko Prkačin was born on 26 November 2002, in Zagreb. Prkačin has known basketball almost since he was born because his father, Nikola “Nikša” Prkačin, was a professional center at high levels. When Nikša transferred to Efes Pilsen (now Anadolu Efes), Roko started to take important steps in basketball. He went to his father’s training and wanted to understand the sport.

After Efes and returning to Croatia with his family, Roko began to build a career in Cibona. Nikša is currently working at QSA, a Croatian sports agency. Not only is Roko’s father his agent but he’s also a true mentor for him; they have an excellent relationship. Roko also has two brothers, who he enjoys spending time with, and a great relationship with his mother.

Prkačin is the captain of a team in the ABA League at the age of 17, having earned a lot of respect within his team. He’s also good in the locker room, he looks a bit too cool and cold-blooded, but he’s actually cheerful and friendly. His English is excellent. Prkačin reads a lot of books and gives a lot of importance to develop as a person.

He made his Jr. Liga ABA Debut in 2017, where he played four games and averaged 10.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 3.7 turnovers while shooting 51.5% from the court. He made both his A-1 Liga and ABA debut in 2018. Overall, he played in 28 games and averaged 8.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.9 turnovers while shooting 48.2% from the court in the 2018-2019 season.

Last year, 2019-2020, Prkačin showed his quality both in ABA level and playing U18 at ANGT Valencia, where he averaged 17.5 points and 11.2 rebounds. He was one of the best players in that tournament. In the ABA, he averaged 5.2 points in 19 games where he had 15.5 minutes per game.

This season Prkačin played 14 games and scored at least 10 points in 12 games, he also made seven double-doubles, at just 17 years old.

From the FIBA events window, he showed himself two times, both were in 2018. Prkačin averaged 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds at the U17 World Cup where Croatia finished 7th place. He averaged 18.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, two blocks, 2.9 turnovers and won the U16 Euro Championship as an MVP of the tournament.

Mentality

Prkačin always talks to his teammates and does not hesitate to guide them with gestures and signs on both sides of the court in both on the ball and off the ball roles. He is a coachable prospect. The team gives him great support from the bench, especially when he tries 3-pointer. He’s always in the game, focused and reactive while on the bench. He gains leadership skills as a captain of a pro team at 17 years old.

Physical Tools

Standing 6-foot-9 with a developing frame, Prkačin physical development curve is moving well. I don’t think he has leveled up too much physically in a year or two, but he has been physically evolving from the early years of his career in line with the prototype modern basketball is looking for.

Prkačin has not taken a serious test so far in places such as Euroleague, Basketball Champions League, and Eurocup. However, he fought physically against many ABA League teams such as Partizan, Split, Red Star. He didn’t show good physical flashes against Red Star, but he wasn’t crushed in the rest of the matches.

Prkačin’s upper body is pretty good for his age. He will turn 18 on November 26 but his upper body is already decent in terms of both width and strength. The part between the head and core is reminiscent of his father. At first glance, he gives the impression that he is cumbersome, but his body coordination and flexibility are impressive.

His shoulder width is not perfect, just average. But the most important thing here is uprightness and stiffness at the end of his shoulders, allowing him to develop further in his triceps and biceps. Overall, Prkačin has to put in the work to add strength to the shoulders. Prkačin does not have the strongest arms among European prospects born in 2002. His strength is fine, especially in his biceps and forearms. His palms are wide and his hands are long.

I think the part that Prkačin needs to develop the most physically is his chest. Average strength and width there. This is not a big concern because at the end of the day he is only 18 years old and he has time to evolve. But that’s one of the things that prevent him from doing what he wants at 100% levels in his current game. On the defensive end, he can be dislodged by a quick driver because cannot fight chest to chest, or cannot cover the slashing. On the offensive end, he sometimes does a bad job of slashing when the defender pushes him from the chest.

Overall, I don’t think he has a very serious lack of strength, agility and width in his upper body, but of course, he should continue in the development curve he has maintained so far.

However, there are some important points in the lower body. Roko Prkačin is mobile and has strong hips. The mobility in his hips brings him to the right timing of sudden reactions, to have both explosive and fluid athletic skills, and to do well in multiple areas on the defensive end.

His legs are quite long and there is significant room to add strength. Prkačin is fine on his lower leg but from the hips to the knees, there is almost no stiffness and strength. He can move well in north-south and east-west directions, he is fast, agile with impressive timing. He also has a quick first step that gives him advanced moves like euro steps. However, he doesn’t have an elite first step by NBA standards.

Roko Prkačin has both explosive and fluid athletic skills. And I think that’s what makes him a high level prospect.

Because in today’s basketball, versatile forwards/stretch bigs need to be fast and fluid not only in open floors or transition but also in tight half-court attacks. The players who can cross this threshold become more capable and I think Prkačin has that potential.

When taking advantage of his fluid athleticism and explosive athleticism, he demonstrated his ability to change direction both in the air and on the ground, as well as his moderately impressive spin, fast feet, impressive vertical jump, and perfect body coordination. Prkačin definitely has balance and coordination, but there is a critical point here. When he tries 3-pointers, his bounce balance looks very strange which negatively affects his shot accuracy.

On the defensive end, Prkačin’s athletic skills here allow him to make the correct rotation, protect the rim, and move quickly around the perimeter. However, he can sometimes be easily ruled out as he lacks elite mobility, speed, and strength.

Overall, Roko Prkačin is an NBA prospect and needs to evaluate all his skills from the NBA window. He just 18 years old and already has a good size and frame. As I mentioned, he should continue to keep the curve and add strength to the shoulders and legs. At the end of the day, RP has the physical tools the NBA demands.

He can also integrate his physical tools with his fluid and explosive athleticism, making dunks that can sometimes enter the Sports Center and sometimes go to the hoop like a shifty guard. On the defense side, the Croatian prospect may have some trouble. Because he cannot show his speed and agility in attack completely in defense. But the length, leaping, and BBIQ can make up. I think he has a good athletic level and overall physical tools to keep up with the pace of the NBA.

Offense

Versatile forwards set themselves apart with slashing and shooting and Roko Prkačin has both of these bullets in his offensive arsenal. But there are a few issues with the shot form and he is not a consistent 3-points shooter yet.

Prkačin has been able to have success as a shooter even though he has some mechanical issues. The elbow point start under his chest consistently which is good. However, his shot pocket is not good in my opinion. He sets the ball down to a good level to get enough momentum but keeps the ball too far from his body. He creates a 90-degree angle in his pocket but too far from his body to create a good arc and maximize his strength, but he has the finger strength and sensitivity to do it.

His load time is average, as well as his time to release, which is ideal compared to his length. He releases from above the head, holding the ball to the right of his head, with his right hand over his right shoulder. He places his balance hand with a good angle and precision. There is also almost no problem with the final touch in the air and the feeling of the ball in the palm but his wrist goes inwards as he releases his shot. But another major problem that negatively affects his shooting is jumping. His leap is very weird in my opinion. Prkačin aligns his knees well, he bends his waist and hips at a 45-degree angle parallel to the floor. He knows how to take power from his feet, but his knees sometimes go out of the ideal setup. Especially the left kneecap is sometimes too exposed or too close. More stability is required here but that should come with strength.

In short, he should bring the ball a little closer to his core and torso in his shot pocket, and be more balanced in his lift. Roko Prkačin is not a versatile shooter. He’s significantly improved his shooting ability since 2018 but he hasn’t shown much more to his shooting identity. He just showed his ability to stretch the floor as a shooter off the catch.

He took the role of CnS in 85% of his shots this year. In the remaining possessions, he shot as a pick-and-pop shooter and self-creator. But I don’t think that’s a big problem. Elite CnS shooting is enough, but if he can add the PnR threat to his offensive arsenal, then he will increase his value even more. I think Prkačin is a respectful shooter but interestingly a lot of the teams in ABA and Croatian Leagues are willing to let him shoot.

This season especially Split left his shots completely free. In 197 seconds of the first quarter of the first Split-Cibona match in the ABA League, he took the ball in the short mid-range area. Because his opponent was a physical defender, Prkačin went off the 3-point line with the ball. He waited two seconds, but the entire Split defense left him free. He got the hit on this shot. But in general, he can’t concentrate and shoot when he is completely free. In these positions, the ball sometimes hits either the very end of the basket or is an air-ball.

Overall, I think he’s an above-average shooter and has enough threat to stretch. But from the NBA window, he should improve the strange leap in the shot form so he can shoot more comfortably against some physical and aggressive, pesky defenses in the NBA. Also, Prkačin absolutely has to keep the ball close to his body in the shot pocket to avoid the defender’s steal. Because in the NBA, some defenders are really can create a massive problem for him.

Prkačin is a good slasher in my opinion. He goes better to the left than the right in slashing/catch-and-drives situations, and is able to integrate his BBIQ with body coordination, soft-touch finishing, and aggressiveness in these positions.

In the BBIQ part, Prkačin’s body positioning and timing of choosing the area to drive are good clues. He takes a lower offensive stance than the opponent’s before attacking the rim, making it difficult for the defender to steal.

When the defender places his body in his low-attack position, he goes in the opposite direction. When the defender uses his hip mobility and his hop to defend, Prkačin turns in the other direction. After that, he shifts his body onto the defender, who has lost his balance, then, leaps in perfect timing and protects the ball with his elbows and goes smoothly into the basket.

The finishing, nice wrist movement, and soft touch when he is close to the basket, and the ability to use the glass are impressive things. However, he lacks a little bit of leaping that hurts him as a finisher. He cannot do efficient things in positions where he is far from the basket and remains stable. If he wants to be a more efficient player in the NBA, I think he needs to level up in this regard. Because the rim protectors, which perfectly protect the basket, can cover him easily under the basket (not including the slashing but should add some floater 100%) and generally has to expand the under the basket spacing of his team. But he is only 18 years old and has enough time to improve in this regard.

Prkačin is an excellent off the ball motion player. This season, he already scored 32 points with just backdoor and curl cuts so far. Because he is not a primary ballhandler and often waits behind the 3-points line on offense, he does a good job of manipulating the opponent and creating easy cuts. And the most important thing here is his activity. In off the ball motions, he strives not only for himself but also for ball sharing. I think it is important that he can be a pass station and it’s allow his team to continue the flow of attack.

As I mentioned above, Prkačin is not a good pick-and-pop player. Same thing for the pick-and-roll games. He has almost no threat as a roller, he cannot position his body well and his screens are often soft due to the lack of elite strength in the upper body. Sometimes he does an excellent job at in-and-out-and-in techniques while playing at the top of the key, but I generally think he has a lot of room to improve in screen making and rolling. And I think this is his major room for his NBA projection. Because one way or another, the PnR is the easiest offensive weapon in the NBA.

The other big room to improve is the post-up. Prkačin showed some good examples where he has a good drop to the baseline, nice mobility, reverse quickness and smoothness in post-up situations. However, overall, he cannot push or dislodge the defender. Also, the lack of elite vertical pop does not allow him long post-up shots. He has room to improve physically and a finishing window here in my opinion.

Not an advanced passer but also not bad. Good read and reaction passer with nice vision for the game, solid handling, quick DHOs, and game awareness. Not above average but also not below. However, he sometimes gambles too much in skip passes, that creates a problem sometimes.

Playing as a secondary or third handler, Prkačin has good ability handling the ball. Solid but when he starts the open floor game, he shows his ability to changes the ball’s momentum, direction, and bounce very well. He just cannot do these things in half-court plays, but it’s not necessary too much.

Finally, he’s very good on filling the transitions. He’s quick, smart, and has burst in transition situations with grab and go ability. Prkačin can finish himself and it’s almost impossible to stop him in transition situations, but, he sometimes cannot pass the physical defender who waits in the nail.

Defense

Roko Prkačin is a quite different defender from traditional power forward and centers, in my opinion. He’s not a good rim protector and not a very threatening shot-blocker, but he does excellent jobs on the defensive end with quickness around the perimeter, active hands, good body coordination, dynamism, and above average BBIQ.

His lateral and linear quickness on the defensive end is much better than on the offensive end. And in this way, he is able to cover his opponent’s shifty footwork, fast backdoor-curl-flash-UCLA cuts and drive-pass-shoot angle creation efforts by using a screen.

In doing so, he gets good energy from the hips and it allows him quickness and change of direction ability. His feet really can step on the floor. Thanks to this ability, Prkačin can easily turn to the angle of the attacker when the attacker starts to drive to the basket. He can shift his body to the attacker’s drive zone. In addition, he raises his one hand in the direction of his opponent, legally pushing his opponent from the chest with the other hand, reducing the opponent’s momentum and strength.

But Prkačin can easily be dislodged in these positions sometimes because he makes a lot of gambles in passing lanes. So I think he’s fit for switch defense, as he’s demonstrated many times throughout his career. He fits a switch defense in terms of both physical, body position, and athleticism. In addition, the engine and energy are important here. But in passing lanes, more calmness is needed.

He’s aretty good defender in Cibona’s high help system. There is no major defender in Cibona, the team usually tries to play good defense with collective effort, and Prkačin’s role in this system is fluid on the perimeter, protecting one of the most important channels of the team.

Prkačin has good BBIQ, does a nice job rotating in the paint and contesting shots. He talks with his teammates and tries to direct them with his gestures, but sometimes he looks very detached from his teammates.

He’s not excellent but above average off the ball, in my opinion. As an off the ball defender, he displays aggressiveness, timing, game reading ability, and body coordination in help defenses from the weak side to the strong side. While controlling his opponent, he is trying to understand the action on the ball side. And when he realizes there is a clear score chance on the ball side, he quickly gets to help.

As a defender of both off the ball and on the ball, he usually goes under the screens. When he goes under the screens during on the ball defense, he does a good job of both tagging the screener and chasing the handler, body balance and hand length help him here. But as an off the ball defender, he has some difficulty fighting screens. And this allows his man to find the ideal angle and time to shoot.

He is prone to biting on step-backs, jab steps, bursts, and pump fakes but he is not someone who directly reacts with his whole body in these positions. Prkačin usually reacts with one hand, but he can recover immediately because he positions his body well. But even a one-second mistake against fast and smart players in the NBA can have bad consequences in these positions in iso situations.

Prkačin does a good job closing out. When he closes to the offense, he does a nice job on sliding, timing-quickness balance, hand adjustments, and leaping. However, as I mentioned, if he goes to closing out with fighting screens, he loses his momentum and does not do a good job.

As a rim protector, the Croatian prospect actually has some amazing sequences. But overall, I don’t think he is a perfect shot blocker or rim protector. I think his lack of elite leaping and some deficiencies in transferring energy from the lower body hurt him here, but it’s not a major problem. Because he increases the defensive strength of his team in switch and perimeter defenses. Nevertheless, his ability to protect the rim aggressively and explosively would make his projection in the NBA much more valuable.

Prkačin doesn’t have any good post-up defense. As I mentioned on the offensive part, he should add some post-up footwork and drill to his offensive and defensive arsenals.

Prkačin is a really great rebounder with excellent game feel, ability to use the length, timing, and good hands. It is very hard to grab the ball in the air against him, like his father.

Overall

Roko Prkačin is the kind of basketball player that modern basketball calls for. He has a promising 3-point weapon on the offensive arsenal, although it is inconsistent, he can feel the game, see the court, is not selfish, can create his own position, can attack the basket from both wings, has both fluid and explosive athletic skills, can adapt to the tempo of the team, does not hesitate to take responsibility in clutch moments, cannot be stopped in transition situations, and generally makes the right decisions in the game.

But there are many technical and fundamental things to improve in pick-and-roll situations and generating points from post-ups. He plays like a small forward on the defensive end rather than a big. Prkačin is not an elite shot-blocker or rim protector, but these aren’t huge issues because he is a basketball player who is willing to defend and can move his feet. He can learn how to protect the rim more effectively. Physically and from the windows of athletics, Prkačin has the ideal things to keep up with the NBA pace but he can improve his vertical pop a little more. Also, like every prospect, he has to physically maintain his development curve, but I think his current tools are close to ideal.

Off the court, Prkačin is a leader, he likes to grind quietly, study hard, but also read books like a teenager. He has very strong basketball genes. The ineffectiveness of PnRs on offense and not being very efficient in post games is a problem, and whether he can win a clear consistent shot is also an important question mark. But in the current projection, I think Roko Prkačin shows that he is an ideal NBA player in every sense and can improve in his cons, and that’s why I consider him the best international player in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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