Boban Marjanovic, a 7-foot-4 center, has clearly been the most dominant player in the Euroleague this season and if Crvena Zvezda had done better in the Top 16, Marjanovic would have secured season MVP award by now.
The 26-year-old big man’s career has been on a rise since joining Mega Vizura in 2012 and later winning the Serbian league MVP award. Over the last three years, Marjanovic transformed himself from an uncoordinated but physically gifted, unbelievably tall center, to become a decisive factor and dominant player in the Euroleague.
Marjanovic, who will become a free agent this summer, averaged 16.6 points and 10.7 rebounds this season, while making 78.1 percent of attempts from the free throw line. Marjanovic registered 16 double-doubles (all-time record) in 24 games played and set an all-time record for most rebounds in a Euroleague season with 256.
RealGM caught up with Marjanovic to talk about his historical performance in the Euroleague, development process, growing confidence, future aspiration and more.
RealGM: First of all, how would you evaluate Crvena Zvezda's performance in the Euroleague this season?
Marjanovic: We are satisfied to be in the Top 16 as we played well throughout the regular season and finished second in the group D. Things were going down in the Top 16 because we lost a couple of close games. We are young and we must learn how to play at the end and how to make those last shots. We have to look at that and if we get better in that aspect, we would become a great team.
RealGM: Do you think experience was the only thing that kept you from making it to the playoffs?
Marjanovic: Yes, I think it was experience. Before, we have not played many close and high-level games, in which experience is very important for everybody. I know how I feel about myself as my first and second year with Crvena Zvezda were different and now I feel much more experienced than before.
RealGM: I remember watching you closely in Turin, Italy during Eurocup Final Eight in 2009. In such a short time you transformed yourself from a role player to an Euroleague MVP candidate. Could you take me through the development process?
Marjanovic: At that time I was much younger and I think it happens with age, playing, minutes, team, teammates, coach and my own work and then it combines into one thing. I have to work a lot with myself. It is very important thing and if you are able to focus on one thing, you do things better.
RealGM: You made the biggest leap in your career while playing for Mega Vizura in Serbia. What was different in that team comparing with other clubs you previously played?
Marjanovic: I had more freedom to take shots that I never took before. Coach Dejan Milojevic was there, he had Euroleague experience and showed me some moves that he knew and shared his knowledge of the game. I did a lot of running there and I actually started to enjoy that. I do not feel as tired as I used to before and it is not difficult for me.
RealGM: You have been one of the most dominant centers in the Euroleague for the past two seasons. It seems that you feel much more confident playing alongside Europe’s best.
Marjanovic: Yeah, it is very good when you feel satisfied with yourself, then you play much better. At least that is the case with me. If you are not satisfied with yourself, you are nervous, if you have problems, then you are not a big help for your teammates.
RealGM: Could you describe what is like playing with Marcus Williams, who dished out most of the assists for you this season?
Marjanovic: He played well and actually I was lucky that he came here. Even if you are open for one second, Marcus will find you. Also he is great shooter. Overall, when we talk about basketball, Marcus is really a great player.
RealGM: You made a huge leap but there are still things that you could improve in your game. What is next on your list?
Marjanovic: Three-point shooting (laughing). I do not really know, I did not really think about it. I try to improve myself step by step by watching myself playing and I see that I always play better when I keep my head cool.
RealGM: What are your aspirations for the future?
Marjanovic: We will see. We have Serbian league playoffs coming up and I am only focusing on that now. I want to feel better and play better. I am working on myself and we will see what will happen.
RealGM: Is the NBA something that you would be interested in or you prefer staying and competing for the trophies in Europe?
Marjanovic: When we start playing basketball, we had Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, who played in the NBA and you wanted to be a part of that too. But now, I just work on myself. I try to not overthink things as it is bad when your mind is floating everywhere. I prefer focusing on one thing and working on that.