Hezonja (right) with the Magic in 2017
|No. 8 – Orlando Magic|
|Position||Shooting guard / Small forward|
February 25, 1995 |
|Listed height||6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)|
|Listed weight||218 lb (99 kg)|
|NBA draft||2015 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall|
|Selected by the Orlando Magic|
|2012–2013||→FC Barcelona B|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Mario Hezonja (Croatian pronunciation: [ˌmâːrio ˈxêzoɲa]; born 25 February 1995) is a Croatian professional basketball player for the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also represents the Croatian national team internationally. He primarily plays at the shooting guard position, but he can also play as a small forward. He was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic.
Hezonja was promoted to the club level in his native Croatia when he was 12 years old, and at the age of 13, he stayed for two seasons with Dubrovnik. In 2010, Hezonja signed a contract with Croatian club, Zagreb. In 2011, he won the Nike International Junior Tournament with Zagreb. He was also named to the All-Tournament team, alongside teammate, Dario Šarić. He was forced to sit out the 2011–12 season because of mononucleosis.
In July 2012, Hezonja signed a three-year contract with Spanish club Barcelona, at the age of 17. He also had an option to extend his contract for an additional four years with the club. His former club, Zagreb, also got 150,000 euros in the name of a buyout, as he was still under contract. For the 2012–13 season, he was loaned to the reserve team of the club: Barcelona B of the LEB Oro, the Spanish second tier level division. In 2012, Hezonja was nominated for the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year Award, but Jonas Valančiūnas eventually won the award.
Hezonja played in the EuroLeague for the first time, in the 2012–13 season. He appeared in only 2 games, averaging 2.5 points and 2 rebounds per game. In 2013, Hezonja was invited to be a part of the world team at the Nike Hoop Summit, but couldn't attend because of injury.
During the EuroLeague's 2013–14 season, Hezonja became a more constant part of Barcelona's first team rotation, although playing very limited minutes.
- 2014–15 season
Starting with the 2014–15 season, Hezonja's role in the team increased, from playing only during the garbage time in the previous season, to around 15 minutes per game, on a constant basis.
On 1 February 2015, Hezonja hit 8-of-8 from the three-point line in a 2014–15 Spanish League season game, in a 101–53 Barcelona win, against La Bruixa d'Or Manresa, becoming the Spanish League MVP for the week 19 of the season. Barcelona finished their participation in the 2014–15 EuroLeague season, after a quarterfinal series loss to Olympiacos. Over 22 EuroLeague games played, Hezonja averaged 7.7 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist per game.
On 23 April 2015, Hezonja declared himself eligible for the 2015 NBA draft, as an international "early-entrant", just days after Barcelona's elimination in the EuroLeague. He had been identified as a potential lottery pick early in his career, and surprised many by opting not to declare for the draft in 2014, his first year of eligibility. Some Spanish and Croatian media saw this move as the player's response to poor communication throughout the final few months with Barcelona's head coach Xavi Pascual; Pascal denied any problems in communication. Barcelona eventually finished the season losing in the final series of the 2015 Spanish League playoffs, after a 3–0 series loss to Real Madrid.
Orlando Magic (2015–present)
- 2015–16 season
He made his debut for the Magic in the team's season-opening loss to the Washington Wizards on 28 October 2015, recording 11 points in 25 minutes off the bench. On 31 January 2016, he scored a then season-high 17 points in a 119–114 win over the Boston Celtics. On 28 February 2016, he made his first career NBA start and dunked four seconds into the game, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 27 minutes of action in a 130–116 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. On 2 March 2016, he scored a season-high 21 points in a 102–89 win over the Chicago Bulls. On 11 April 2016, he set career highs with seven assists and five steals while scoring 19 points in a 107–98 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Orlando Magic finished the season with 35–47 record, missing the Playoffs. Hezonja finished the season making 79 appearances with the averages of 6.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists on 43.3 field goal percentage. At the end of the season, the Orlando Magic front office made a head coach change, replacing Scott Skiles with Frank Vogel.
- 2016–17 season
Under new head coach Frank Vogel, Hezonja saw minutes reduction, mainly due to his mediocre defense. On 28 October 2016, Hezonja scored 13 points in a 108–82 loss to the Detroit Pistons. He tied that season high on 4 April 2017, registering another 13-point effort in a 122–102 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the Magic's season finale on 12 April 2017, Hezonja grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds in a 113–109 win over Detroit.
Although his defense improved towards the end of the season, his shooting ability vanished. In general, his sophomore season was underwhelming, and with reduced minutes his game averages dropped to just 4.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game on 35.5 field goal percentage. The Orlando Magic finished the season with 29–53 record, missing the Playoffs for the fifth season in a row.
- 2017–18 season
After seeing very little action in the beginning of the 2017–18 season, he made first start of the season against the Atlanta Hawks on 9 December and scored 7 points. On 13 December in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, he scored a season-high 17 points and had 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. On 17 December, Hezonja scored a career-high 28 points and had 6 rebounds and 2 assists, while shooting 8 from 12 from the three-point line, in a 114–110 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
National team career
Hezonja was named Most Valuable Player of the 2011 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship, after leading his team with a double-double in the final, 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals. Over the tournament, he averaged 20 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He was named to the All-Tournament Team of the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Cup.
Hezonja was part of the senior Croatian national team that participated at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. He also represented Croatia at the EuroBasket 2015, where they were eliminated in the eighth finals by Czech Republic. Over 6 tournament games, he averaged 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 41.2% shooting from the field.
He represented Croatia at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where they finished in 5th place.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Career achievement and honors
- Junior club honors
- Senior club honors
- 2011 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship: MVP
- 2011 Nike International Junior Tournament: All-Tournament Team
- Sportske novosti award for Fair Play (2011)
- 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Cup: All-Tournament Team
- 2013 Torneo de L'Hospitalet: All-Tournament Team
- LEB Oro Rising Star (2013)
- Vera, Sergio. "Hezonja, la gran perla que aterriza en Barcelona" (in Spanish). Sport.es. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- "Valanciunas Young Men's POY 2012". FIBA Europe.com. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Mario Hezonja, jugador de la jornada 19" (in Spanish). ACB.com. 1 February 2015.
- Vecenie, Sam. "Croatian wing Mario Hezonja to declare for 2015 NBA Draft". cbssports.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- "Súper Mario se harta y se apunta al Draft". marca.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Ramos, Jesús P. (1 April 2015). "Pascual: "Con Hezonja no pasa nada"". mundodeportivo.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- "Real Madrid make it 4 out of 4". marca.com (in Spanish). 24 June 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- Denton, John (25 June 2015). "Magic Select Mario Hezonja with Fifth Overall Pick". NBA.com. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
- "Magic Sign Mario Hezonja". NBA.com. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- "Late basket from Wall rallies Wizards over Magic 88-87". NBA.com. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
- "Postgame Report: Magic vs. Celtics (1/31/16)". NBA.com. 31 January 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- "Big Magic start dooms 76ers to eighth straight loss, 130-116". NBA.com. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
- "Vucevic scores 24 as Magic overwhelm Bulls, 102-89". NBA.com. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- "Magic dominant at times, beat Bucks in home finale, 107-98". NBA.com. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
- "Magic Name Frank Vogel Head Coach". NBA.com. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Rossman-Reich, Philip. "2016-17 Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: Mario Hezonja". orlandomagicdaily.com. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Mario Hezonja 2016-17 Game Log". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- "Orlando hangs on to defeat Detroit 113-109". ESPN.com. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- "Mario Hezonja Won't Let Contract Situation Distract Him". NBA.com. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
- "Williams pours in 31 as Clippers dump Magic". reuters.com. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Mario Hezonja scores career-high 28, Magic's late rally falls short against Pistons". foxsports.com. AP. 17 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Casey, Dan (7 August 2011). "Super Mario Leads Croatia to Gold". FIBA Europe.com.
- "CROATIA UNVEIL AMBITIOUS EUROBASKET SQUAD". eurobasket2015.org. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "CZECHS MAKE FIRST QUARTER-FINAL TRIP". .eurobasket2015.org. 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Mario Hezonja". eurobasket2015.org. FIBA Europe. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Casey, Dan (7 August 2011). "MVP Hezonja Leads All-Tournament Team". FIBA Europe.com. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Košarkašice i Hezonja uz Ivicu i Blanku" (in Croatian). Kosarka.org. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- Romero, Pablo (2013-06-24). "Un quinteto plagado de ilusiones" (in Spanish). AdeccoOro.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-07.
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