Primoz Brezec is one of the few, the proud, the original Bobcats. He seems like a good enough dude, too. But the fact of the matter is that he will not be able to be a major part of this team in the long haul if he continues to be nothing more than a more glorified version of Michael Doleac. Or less glorified; I can’t decide which.
At 7-foot-1 and 252 pounds, Brezec has the can’t-be-taught size needed to be a center in the Association. What he doesn’t currently have, however, is the game.
Like the aforementioned Doleac, Brezec’s offensive game is consistent largely of midrange jump shooting. The man loves to shoot the ball from 15 to 18 feet, from the wings to the top of the key. Truth is, he isn’t too bad at it. The problem is that Brezec provides little else on that end of the floor. He doesn’t create a threat in the post to keep opposing defenses honest, isn’t a great high post passer and doesn’t clean the offensive glass particularly well.
It isn’t all that visible on paper, because the numbers shooting numbers are still palatable in some regards: Brezec has shot 51.2, 51.7 and 44.5 percent from the field and scored 13.0, 12.4 and (in roughly half as many minutes) 5.0 points per game over the last three seasons respectively. For a player who amounts mostly to a jump shooter, the numbers themselves aren’t terrible. For a player who purports to be a center on a team that has been in serious need of a dominant scorer anywhere on the floor, the offensive style simply doesn’t fly.
And that is the better – and less significant – end of the floor for Brezec.
While it’s nice to get some offensive production out of a center, the two most important facets of the game at the five are rebounding and interior defense. Brezec is at best a serviceable rebounder, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game in 2004-05 but dropping to 5.6 per game the season after that, a number not acceptable for a starting center. Beyond that, the whole defensive presence concept seems nearly wholly nonexistent. Brezec does nothing as far as shot blocking (0.4 per game for his career) and isn’t a major force in the paint. He doesn’t alter or discourage a whole lot of shots and isn’t a great help defender.
Put simply, what all of this means right now is that Primoz Brezec’s game as currently constructed doesn’t cut it at the starting center position in this league.
As a 28-year old with six years in the league, how much Brezec is willing to change his game is unknown, but that is what will have to happen in order for him to continue to play a prominent role in this town. This Bobcats group is going to be very good sooner rather than later, and the squad won’t be able to afford having the man at the most important position on the floor simply shoot midrange jumpers instead of doing his job. If Brezec doesn’t get it together, he will force Sam Vincent’s hand into either testing the waters with Ryan Hollins or going small with Emeka Okafor at the five more often than not (with Walter Herrmann the likely four). Beyond that, it will be a sign to the front office that they will need to make an off-season acquisition in the summers to come.
This is it for Primoz Brezec. This is his year to show that he belongs. Because this team is about to get good.
And how much Primoz truly wants to be part of it remains to be seen.