Drazen Petrovic is one of the best forgotten players from the early 1990s. What looked like a truly promising future was cut short just four years into his professional NBA career, when he tragically died in a car crash in 1993. It did not take Petrovic long to become a successful player in the NBA.
In just Petrovic’s his third season in the NBA, he was already a quality starter playing 37 minutes a night, averaging 20+ points per game, and leading his team to the playoffs.
No one knows how much different would NBA history be had Petrovic developed into the superstar he reflected, but he left an impacting legacy. To this day, a lot of people, including Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, recognize his innovative game.
Rick Carlisle knew Petrovic firsthand. He coached the Croatian on the Nets during his last two seasons and has nothing but positive things to say about Drazen and the legacy he left behind. As quoted by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Carlisle said about Petrovic:
“From the standpoint of work ethic and getting better, I put him in [Dirk] Nowitzki’s class.”
It was not only the fact that he worked as hard as anyone in the league. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard was an innovator. In a time when players did not take advantage of the three-point line nearly as much as they do today, Petrovic was a top shooter from long range. Petrovic’s 43.7 percent shooting from behind the arc is the third-best mark in NBA history behind Steve Kerr and Hubert Davis. Carlisle believes Petrovic would fit just right in this era:
“He was one of the first guys to shoot from three and four feet behind the [three-point] line, and he was doing it running full speed off screens. It was absolutely wild. He would be perfectly suited to play today.”
He is well-recognized in basketball: a Hall of Famer with his jersey hanging from the Barclays Center’s rafters. The Nets honored Drazen Petrovic last night, as this year marks the 25th anniversary of his death.
The @BrooklynNets remember Drazen Petrovic. pic.twitter.com/uYpItYjw9A
— NBA (@NBA) February 27, 2018