A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Filip Petrušev made his way to Montverde Academy to conclude his high school career. From there the 6'11" skilled big man committed to Gonzaga and likely was not expecting to get too much run as a freshman with an already crowded, experienced Bulldog front-court featuring Brandon Clarke, Rui Hachimura, and Killian Tillie. Nagging injuries to Tillie thrust Petrušev into an 11-12 minute per game 6th/7th man role. Petrušev took advantage of this opportunity and was one of the most efficient rotations bigs in the country. In his 366 minutes played, Petrušev ranked in the as a 95th percentile half-court scorer and a 94th percentile post-up threat, showing early on that he may very well be able to carve out a future role as a rotation big in the NBA or at the highest levels in Europe.
Petrušev also has a nice sample of international experience, leading Serbia to gold medals at the 2017 & 2018 FIBA U-18 European Championships. He was absolutely dominant in 2018, averaging 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.
Petrušev, who briefly tested the 2019 NBA Draft waters, has put forth a strong sophomore campaign in Spokane by averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds, helping propel Gonzaga to a 26-1 record while ranking consistently as a top three team in the country. He has positioned himself as a Naismith Player of the Year candidate and an intriguing potential 2020 early entrant prospect.
Tale of the Tape
Interior Scoring & Touch
Petrušev’s most NBA-ready skill appears to be his interior offense. He has soft hands and demonstrates touch both inside and out. He isn’t an elite athlete, but possesses both size and creativity needed at the next level; he has a wide array of post moves which he uses to get around defenders and to the rim. Petrušev has smooth hooks off both his left and right shoulder, and utilizes body control to hang and finish in traffic.
At 235 pounds, the big man uses his wide base to set solid screens and seal off defenders down low. Even against stronger defenders, he holds his ground well and doesn’t give up room he’s worked for. He’s also really smart with the ball in his hands and consistently finds ways to positively impact the game. This season, he ranks in the 78th percentile as a post-up scorer and Gonzaga converts at a 1.231 PPP clip when he facilitates from the post.
While Petrušev won’t likely be a major contributor from the three point line at the next level (having attempted only 41 shots from deep on a 26.8% clip in his Gonzaga career), he was an 85+% FT shooter as a freshman and there may be some potential for him to develop a bit as as pick-and-pop shooter. He has fairly slow/methodical mechanics, but has displayed adequate touch and arc on his jump shots. Stretching his game out a bit and becoming a more willing jump shooter would go a long way in ensuring his translatability as a modern NBA big.
In the clip below we highlight Petrušev's interior scoring and touch.
Rebounding & Feel
Petrušev's reported +1" wingspan doesn’t create notable length advantage on the glass, but his coordination and anticipation allow him to gather rebounds on both ends of the floor. Petrušev has soft, quick hands with which he snatches offensive rebounds and can quickly get up for the putback. He uses his wide frame and lower body strength to secure position on box outs really well. This season, he’s averaging 12.4 boards per 40 minutes.
Petrušev is also a really intelligent player, with natural feel and anticipation on offense. He doesn’t always have a high motor, but at his best he finds anticipates defensive reactions well in order to position himself for high-percentage opportunities. He’s flashed the ability to facilitate the offense from the top of the key and low post as well, as he has good vision and the height to see over most defenders. He's more than doubled his AST% from last season, and may have even more untapped potential to facilitate to cutters and make plays out of the short-roll. When Petrušev is locked in mentally, he finds himself one step ahead of the defense and regularly in the right place to help his team.
In the clip below we highlight Petrušev's rebounding and feel.
Filip Petrušev is the next in a long line of international prospects with NBA potential to have come through Gonzaga. At 6'11" with a solid offensive skill set and strong international pedigree, there will likely be an opportunity for him to carve out a role as a third big in the NBA. If he chooses to declare, anticipate Petrušev to hear is name called in the mid-to-late 2nd Round. He will likely need some time in the G League or in a short-term stash arrangement overseas to refine his shooting and defense, but with a strong development program, Petrušev has the potential to carve out a long, successful professional career.
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