Mario Hezonja will get a chance to explore some hidden aspects of his game, now bound to get a few cracks as a point-forward with the Portland Trail Blazers after showing glimpses of brilliance at that position with the New York Knicks. Head coach Terry Stotts is open to give Super Mario, who averaged 18.8 points, 8.5 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals in four games last April, the chance to flourish in that role:
“We will use him in that capacity,” said Stotts, according to Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian. “As far as half court offense, we’ll get there. I think mostly in random play, in transition, getting a rebound and having him handle in the open court is where he’s really shown it so far.”
Hezonja was drafted into the Orlando Magic with the prospect of being a floor spacer, but he's shown to be capable of more when handling the ball and creating opportunities for others. More importantly, this will give the Blazers another capable asset to handle the ball besides the star backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, which will prove even more vital in the postseason once teams plan to take the aforementioned out of the picture.
The Croatian will play at his usual small forward spot, at times covering at power forward when Stotts chooses to go small, but he will get his chances to run the offense and either generate opportunities for himself or his new teammates.
While Hezonja struggled shooting the ball last season, he could make up for that by taking on this role and flourishing in it — something that should ultimately reflect on his numbers so long as he gets a decent run from Stotts.