In a draft class that possesses a multitude of international talents that draw a lot of public attention, Russian forward Nikita Mikhailovskii is flying a bit under the radar. A 6’7’’+ guard, Mikhailovskii brings the length of a prototypical NBA wing, combined with a versatile offensive skill set and unique handling ability at his size. This year marks the second season that the Russian talent has been a major part of the rotation of Avtodor Saratov. For the 2018-19 season, Mikhailovskii was named VTB United League Young Player of the Year. What makes this accolade even more impressive is the fact that all players 22 and under are eligible to win the award and Mikhailovskii was still just 18 years old when earned this recognition. In addition, he was a vital contributor to Russian youth national teams on multiple occasions, most recently at the 2019 FIBA U-19 World Cup in Greece. With increased playing time (Mikhailovskii has been a starter in 4/5 Avtodor games so far this season (22.7 MPG)), he will have the opportunity to prove himself against European powerhouses like Khimki Moscow, CSKA Moscow, and Zenit Saint-Petersburg on a regular basis.
Tale of the Tape
While he might not project as a full-time primary ball handler, Mikhailovskii has already proven that he can excel in the role of the secondary playmaker and has an impressive variety of advance dribble-moves for his size and age. What stands out is his feel for the game. In the half-court, Mikhailovskii usually remains under control and rarely produces unforced errors. His court vision is on display as a pick-and-roll ball handler, where he reliably feeds the roll man, finds spot-up shooters with precise skip passes, or gets to the basket once he sees an opening in the lane. At the U-19 World Cup, he led his team with 4.7 assists per game and was one of only two non-PGs in the top ten of the tournament. With better spacing around him, Mikhailovskii should become an even bigger threat for opposing defenses.
In the clip below, we highlight Mikhailovskii’s playmaking ability in the half-court.
Due to the combination of his great court vision, the ability to change ends quickly and impressive ball handling skills, Mikhailovskii is a force in the open floor. There can be some situations where he gets a bit out of control, but in the vast majority of fast-break situations, Mikhailovskii makes good decisions/reads. With his long strides, he quickly covers a lot of ground but also likes to use tempo changes to catch the defense off guard and find his way into the lane. If there is not an opening for himself to attack the basket, Mikhailovskii does an excellent job of involving his teammates in transition. His accurate outlet passes regularly set his teammates up for favorable transition opportunities.
In the clip below, we highlight Mikhailovskii’s ability to lead the break.
In order to raise his stock for the 2020 NBA Draft, the magic word for Nikita Mikhailovskii is consistency. The young Russian swingman brings all the necessary tools to warrant a draft selection but for scouts, there are likely some questions as to whether Mikhailovskii can manifest his potential on a nightly basis. He had a golden opportunity to put himself on the map at the 2019 FIBA U-19 World Cup and showed some flashes but unfortunately lacked energy, effort, and focus. He'll certainly have further opportunities to show consistent engagement as a complement to his upside / skill set. His biggest question marks are on defense, but Mikhailovskii has shown signs of being able to turn into a competent defender whenever he is locked in and engaged, as he did a decent job when matched up against Alexey Shved, one of the most talented scorers in Europe.
If Mikhailovskii can show notable improvement in the improvement areas outlined above, he could very well draw interest from NBA teams in the back half of the 2nd Round. Regardless of if he remains in the 2020 NBA Draft as an early entrant or withdraws to spend another year overseas, Mikhailovskii will need some time to work on his body to adjust to the the increased physical demands of the NBA. As of now, it it seems more likely that he tests the waters again and becomes a viable 2021 potential draftee. In this case, Mikhailovskii most would likely warrant looks from EuroLeague and EuroCup teams for the next season. It is certainly possible, however, that he makes significant strides over the next few months and bolsters his stock enough to remain in the 2020 NBA Draft as a viable draft-and-stash candidate.
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