2. Mario Hezonja
Before the 2015 NBA Draft, Croatian star Mario Hezonja was viewed as a high potential prospect. With a 6-foot-8 body frame, a nice dose of athleticism and a smooth shot, what wan’t there to like? Hezonja checked off all the boxes of an ideal three man in the modern NBA. He also had an endearing brashness about him, an arrogance that many European players transitioning to the NBA simply don’t express. Well, perhaps he shouldn’t have been so cocky. Since joining the Orlando Magic on draft day however, the former Barcelona BC man has disappointed in a major way.
Hezonja’s first two seasons in the league were marked by miserable shooting efficiency, underwhelming playmaking ability and poor performance on the defensive end of the floor. But Mario experienced somewhat of a renaissance last season,demonstrating flashes of the potential that made him such a mesmerizing prospect. He improved substantially as a scorer, cutting out tough mid-rangers from his shot diet. Hezonja took a higher percentage of his shots at the rim last year and finished almost 70 percent of his attempts within three feet. That was a career best by a wide margin. He also got that career swagger back, bombing ambitious 3-pointers and throwing gutsy passes. Hezonja simply seems like a more confident player now.
Given his underwhelming performance before this the 2018 season, the Magic understandably decided to decline Hezonja’s fourth year team option back in October. Because of of that decision, Orlando can offer the Croatian forward a salary starting at his current cap hold, which is just a shade over $5 million. He will thus be easily attainable for teams willing to offer him that that. Hezonja is the type of player that’s worth taking a shot on. Wing players are so valuable in the NBA and Hezonja might be a legit rotation player at this point. He’s shown some promise and he’ll be available on the cheap. Why not make an offer starting in the range of $8-$10 million? The Bulls have the resources and the time to take these kinds of risks.