23. Ante Zizic, Boston Celtics
Another Croatian big man, Ante Zizic was taken with the last of the Boston Celtics first-round selections in the 2016 NBA Draft. A professional overseas since 2013, Zizic had racked up a few accolades in his time before declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft as he was named to the FIBA Europe Cup Starting Five and ABA League Top Prospect in 2016.
Boston was looking to take advantage of all of their picks that they controlled during the 2016 NBA Draft and after securing Jaylen Brown at third and going international with Guerschon Yabusele at 16, they plucked from the overseas crop once again by drafting Zizic with the 23rd pick. The Celtics had the luxury of already having a deep roster before the draft so by taking two international players they were prepared to stash them if need be.
Zizic was stashed. After having a great showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, Zizic returned to the ABA League but moved to the Turkish Super League and played for Darussafska where he got the chance to play in the EuroLeague. His rookie season wouldn’t happen in Boston as he became part of the Kyrie Irving trade between the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. Once a member of the Cavaliers, Zizic promptly followed the G-League route for the majority of his first season.
This year, injuries to Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson opened up a spot for Zizic to get consistent minutes for Cleveland. He played 59 games and started 25 of them. With the bigger role, he was decent when on the floor, but the player we thought Boston had acquired after watching summer league in 2016 looks to have disappeared of late. Zizic will have another season in Cleveland to show who he is and what he can bring to the NBA game.