Boban Marjanovic is one of the most fascinating players in NBA history. Any time he has ever gotten a chance to play he puts up the kind of production, efficiency, and net rating only Hall of Famers have ever reached. He’s the only player in NBA history to put up the kind of numbers he did and never get to play a significant role. He didn’t even really have steady rotation roles. This was despite any time he was ever given starts or put into the rotation he excelled in the chances he got. It’s long been a frustration of mine that we never got an opportunity to play it out and see the result proven or disproven. Unfortunately, while he’s still a solid player at 34 years old, he’s not that player anymore.
Let’s put his career into perspective.
Boban has now played 2640 minutes in his career which isn’t a small sample size. 2000 minutes would qualify him for any individual season rankings on reference. Over 82 games that would be 32.1 minutes a game and his counting stats would look like this.
I do believe had he been born 20 years earlier he would have posted hall-of-fame statistics. Some of that would be shaved off by pace but it’s still incredible what he has done when he got the chance to play. I understand how the NBA has changed and the demands to guard the perimeter players of today are put under vs the past. It’s likely why otherwise good coaches left him on the bench over these years. Still, I think it’s insane that Bobon never carved out even a rotation 15-minute-a-game role. Surely with all the nonshooting centers that do play that could and should have been found regardless. There is no way he was one of the worst players in the NBA on the deep bench and that’s how he was treated yearly.
A player putting up that kind of value, and making the kind of positive team effect is certainly more valuable and many centers had that role. When he entered the league you still had guys like Kendrick Perkins playing 15 minutes a game. There weren’t an 18 minutes game rotations spot for him anywhere in the NBA? Come on, I don’t believe that. What I believe is many GM’s missed an opportunity. To put it into perspective Willie Reed and 34-year-old shell Marcin Gortat carved out a bigger role under Doc Rivers than Boban did. What did Marcin Gortat at 34 do that Boban couldn’t is my question? He should have had all of his minutes. That was the only season he qualified for Defensive Plus Minus and he ranked 13th of the centers that season.
Bobon Started 25 games in his career.
In Boban’s 25 career starts his numbers were almost identical, and he had a +15 net rating.
Here are the 21 games Boban played for 20+ minutes.
Here are the 3 games he got 30+ minutes of run-in and what they looked like.
Coaches were certainly leaving him out there because they liked the matchups and he had it going, or they had injuries or whatever the situation was, but so what. It just shows he was capable of productivity in 20+ minutes with no issues. It was never a conditioning issue. He could have played 25+ minutes a game easily, and for most 7-3 guys was healthy by that standard. In Europe, he played 28 minutes a game and started all 41 games one season. I think Boban is a guy that could have easily put up 14ppg 10rpg in 25 minutes a game on An NBA-type of efficiency. I think any time he got an extended run he proved that.
It wasn’t just his NBA regular season numbers, his production and efficiency were consistent across, the preseason, Gleague, summer league, international play, and even the playoffs. He always could post a 22+ PER, 61+ True Shooting statline, many playing over 20+ minutes.
Here is his insane 3 game Gleague career
It’s 3 games, but it’s completely consistent with any other time he has been able to play.
Probably most impressive are the 31 Playoff games he has played in and nearly 400 minutes. Everyone’s numbers dip some in playoff intensity and he was nearly identical. Another 400 minutes of high-intensity evidence.
His best season in Europe I believe proves he could play 25+ minutes a game effectively. He started all 41 games and played like a true starter for a couple of seasons before coming over to the NBA. It was never conditioning.
He had a 28.2 PER and .659 True shooting in 10 Euroleague games. It’s consistent anywhere he has been on the court he has put up incredible numbers.
Here is where Boban’s career PER would rank him if he were qualified.
He was a scary player to deal with, and his place in NBA history I believe should be written as incomplete because he never actually got the chance to be what he could have been. All the evidence we have says it could have been special too.