Talking to a reporter before Tuesday’s game against Phoenix, Seattle SuperSonics forward Predrag Drobnjak tried to explain why he played so well the previous two games, making up for the absence of the injured Vin Baker.
As the 27-year-old Yugoslavian rookie stumbled in basic English, fellow rookie Vladimir Radmanovic wandered by and offered this simple explanation:
“He is getting more minutes,” Radmanovic said.
Yes, Drobnjak agreed, that is why after a season in which he has averaged 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12 minutes, he has averaged 15 points and almost six rebounds in 24 minutes since Baker dislocated three toes on his left foot three games ago.
“I have more minutes, I have more shots, I get more opportunities when I am on the court,” said Drobnjak, who had 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting against the Suns on Tuesday, as well as two rebounds and two assists.
Indeed, but it looks almost as if Drobnjak is a different player. Through the first 50 games of the season, the Fred Flintstone lookalike seemed as if he might have been another foreign experiment gone bad, stumbling around the court, unable to grasp the NBA game.
Then, in Seattle’s past three victories, things clicked for Drobnjak. He is hitting shots he hasn’t hit all season, and against Sacramento on Sunday, he timed his jump perfectly and blocked the shot of All-Star forward Chris Webber.
Drobnjak said a lot of his turnaround is that he finally is healthy after spraining his ankle early in the season.
“He’s doing the things we thought he was capable of doing,” Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. “With extra minutes, he has gotten the opportunity to play and is not getting rotated out as quickly as I have been this season (when Baker was playing). He’s shown that with minutes, he can give me something out on the floor. I think his biggest strength is understanding the game and shooting the ball. He has done a good job for us the last couple games.”
“I just want to show myself and my coach and my teammates that I can play in
the NBA,” Drobnjak said.
Short shots: Shammond Williams is expected to rejoin the team for the game tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers. … Even before they shot 55.4 percent against the Suns, the Sonics were leading the league in field-goal percentage (.465) and 3-point field goal percentage (.394). Oddly, they are 17th in the league in free-throw percentage, shooting .748 percent.