By Eurohoops team/ [email protected]
In an interview with CosmoteSports, the former coach of ASVEL and Monaco believes that his former player’s move to the NBA was premature. He is of thought that Theo Maledon should have stayed longer competing in Euroleague and the French championship.
Mitrovic had high expectations from Maledon, seeing him as a talent that could perhaps even reach the heights of the Greek and European legend Dimitris Diamantidis.
“For me, Maledon was a future Diamantidis. I saw him as a player in the style of Diamantidis. Tall, smart, strong, serious as a human being. But, unfortunately, Europe is losing players who may have shown only 50% of their talent. Okay, everyone wants to go there, the NBA is the top, the roof in basketball. And everyone likes that, and it’s perfect, but not for me. I prefer to watch the Euroleague more, but that concerns me. Ninety percent of the world sees the NBA. That’s a problem, but we have to face it, to find a way,” he said and continued.
“We see unknown players trying out in the NBA… They go there, they make good contracts, you can not compare salaries here and there. I understand it, I understand it completely. And I’m happy when some of my players go there and have a good career. It is much better to have a good career than to be the number one in the draft.”
Shortly after he parted ways with ASVEL, Mitrovic was criticized (by Tony Parker as well) among other things for not giving enough playing time to Maledon. However, the coach completely disagrees.
“My job is to give the opportunity if I recognize a good young player who works hard. My job is to give him the opportunity to play. You see, Theo Maledon was playing for three minutes before I left. And yes, this is a stupid story, since Theo Malendon finally played and he really did… I’m happy because Theo Malendon shows how “bad” my job was. This is the proof, I do not need anything else, Theo talked about my work.”
He also compared Maledon’s “bad marketing” and pre-draft situation to that of Aleksej Pokusevski’s who didn’t log any minutes in Euroleague. Both ended up in Oklahoma with Pokusevski being the 17th overall pick while Maledon dropped to the second round at 34th.
“I was told that Theo Maledon had the worst possible marketing before he went to the NBA. And for NBA data, one of the most important things is your position in the draft. One of the most important. Take a look at the player from Olympiakos, the young Serb, how many minutes did he play with Olympiakos in the Euroleague?” he asked and then gave an answer.
“Zero, yes. Meanwhile, Maledon played here and against Panathinaikos and against Olympiacos. So this is a story for journalists and this is the first time I have answered it. When your colleagues in France ask me about this I never answer. This is just a story, but Theo Maledon explained to everyone that I worked with him for the last two years.”
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