Uros Slokar: "I hope Colangelo likes me"
How do you feel about the season you are having in Treviso so far?
Uros Slokar: I'm really happy because the coach is giving me much more time than previous years, so I feel like I'm improving a lot. It's very important for me to do that so I want to play as many minutes as possible in the best level in Europe to be able to take the next step.
Weren't you expecting even more playing time?
US: Not really because the thing when I came here is that... I had to work with the National Team during the summer, so I was very tired. I didn't have time to rest. No vacation, no nothing... In the first couple of months I was playing very good, but the following months my body really started to feel the fatigue. Since then, when I recovered from that, I started playing well again. So I'm happy now. I've had a couple of little injuries, but I will be ready.
What were your expectations when you declared for the draft last season?
US: I didn't go there with really big expectations. I already knew what was coming to me and I didn't really care all that much about the position, but about getting drafted by a team that really liked me. I wasn't going for a number. That's why my workouts where oriented for teams that needed or wanted a player like me. I was extremely happy when I knew that the Raptors had chosen me, because they said they had a project for me and began showing immediately they really do. And I'm really happy about that.
So you were not disappointed at all that you went to the 58th spot.
US: No, no, no. Many people think that the number is the most important thing. Not at all. We've seen guys that have been first-rounders and are nowhere now, they are not playing at all. And then you have second-rounders that are dominating, guys like, I don't know, Ginobili. You have guys in the second round that are extremely good players. And anyway, the draft is not about how good you are at the moment, but how big of a prospect you are. That's my opinion. So me personally, I was not disappointed at all.
You spent the part of the summer with the Raptors in the summer leagues. How was that?
US: Yeah, I went to play in summer league with the team and I did pretty well. I'm pretty happy about that because I showed what I can do and I think I left a good impression on the team. For all the responses that I got, I think I left a good impression. That was my goal. Just to say, 'Hello, this is me and this is what I can do, and if you like me I'm here and would be more than happy to play for you'".
Was there anything that caught you attention in special during your brief NBA experience?
US: Nothing really in special. What I noticed is – because I played against guys like Bogut, Simien and all these guys – I think that the draft this year was one with not many differences between players. One guy can be 1, 2 or 3 or 6, 7, 8 or 20 and they all still produced a lot. So there really was not that big of a difference between players. That's what I really noticed.
Did you like the city?
US: Oh, I really liked it. I really liked Toronto. Also because there's a lot of Slovenian people there. And I saw the tower... Actually, I had been there on vacation. Six or seven years ago, we had family living there and I really liked to visit the city because I liked it the first time. It's clean, it's calm... I think it's a city that fits me perfectly.
You've been in touch with the Raptors management in the last few months, right?
US: Yes, yes, of course.
But you know they recently fired the general manager that drafted you and hired a new one. Are you worried that might affect your future in the NBA?
US: No, I don't really think about things like that. You know, I let my agent take care of this stuff. I'm not here to negotiate or talk with people about the situation. I'm here to play basketball and try to do my best. Anyway, I would like that the people in the management of the Raptors now to like me like the previous people there liked me. I hope Colangelo likes me because I really liked everything about the team. I liked the coach, I liked the coaching staff, the scouts... But I can't really say much about this. I have an agent to take care of things like this and I just do my thing, which is playing and proving that I can be there and help the team.
What are your plans regarding the NBA? Is it something you see in the short term or the long term?
US: First off, my first thing is finishing the season here and play well. That's really important to me. Then, we'll see. It's hard to speculate what will happen in the future because things in basketball and in the NBA can completely change in just one day. I just have to try to do my best here and prove that I can make it there. And if they don't think I'm ready, I would have no problem returning to Europe and gaining that extra experience I may need to prove that I can play in the NBA.
What can you tell us about your teammate Andrea Bargnani, who is projected to be a lottery pick this year?
US: He's a great player. I think he can definitely play in the NBA. For sure. Obviously, he's young and has plenty of work to do, but he's one of the top two or three European players in terms of potential. No doubt about it. I would put him right at the top with guys like Splitter and such. He has a very bright future.
You or Bargnani? Who's better?
US: That's hard. It's too early to say that. I guess time will tell.
Do you think he's going to enter the draft?
US: I think he's going to enter the draft. I don't ask him questions about things like that, but I think he will do that. And if he does that, he's going to be serious about it. It's not going to be like a Fran Vazquez situation, going there and then returning to Europe. I'm not sure about it, but I've heard him talking about the NBA, so I have the impression he will declare for the draft.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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