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Defense, Consistency Keys to Drejer's NBA Future

Christian Drejer will have to become more consistent offensively and show improvement on defense if he is going to make it in the NBA, Nets GM Ed Stefanski told NBA TV this week.

Drejer, the 6'9" shooting guard chosen by the Nets at No. 51 in the 2004 draft, is playing with Virtus Bologna in the Italian League and was the subject of a six-minute segment on Basketball International, the NBA TV program that focuses mainly on European basketball. He is averaging 14 ppg for Virtus and leading it to a surprising season, being credited for the franchise's turnaround in several national newspapers this week.

While non-committal about Drejer's prospects with the Nets, Stefanski said the 23-year-old Danish player has NBA potential...if he works on two areas.

"We were very happy to get a skilled player like that late in the second round," said Stefanski. "So he's over in Bologna. We're following him . He's putting some big numbers on the boards some nights. On other nights, he's not as consistent as we would like him to be. We had him over here in the summer time. He's a terrific young man.

"We think if he works hard on his game, especially on his defensive game, he has a shot to play in the NBA."

Drejer, who has been credited with critical defensive stops his last two games against top Italian League teams, said that he has been working on his 'D' and "getting a lot of experience" this year.

"I'm getting my minutes," he said, contrasting his situation now with his problems last year when he sat on the bench in Barcelona of the Spanish League. "I'm having a lot of fun over here. We have a great team, great chemistry. Everything's working out fine. You play for a coach [Zare Markovski] who just lets you play and believes in you, that means a lot. I finally have my confidence back...I'm definitely improving on that point [defense]."

Drejer admitted he still wants to play in the league and says he watches the Nets on the internet and thinks they are a legitimate contender for the NBA championship.

"I felt like that the whole time," he said in flawless English. "They have an awesome team. I think they could go all the way. They have that kind of team. They have some of the best players in the NBA at the 1, 2 and 3. They got a great team."

Drejer said he has also been following the University of Florida on the net. Drejer played a season and a half with the Gators before dropping out and signing a million dollar contract with F. C. Barcelona in 2004. The move was controversial, but Drejer still has good feelings toward Coach Billy Donovan who he said had done "an incredible job" in getting the young Florida team to the Final Four.

His early departure from Florida soured a number of teams on him, leading to his low pick after once being considered a lottery prospect. Basketball International host Simone Sandri called Drejer "one of the steals of the 2004 draft" and credited the Nets with a "great job in scouting you".

Drejer's teammate, David Bluthenthal who played for Sacramento last year endorsed Drejer's NBA dream: "Christian Drejer is definitely an NBA player. He is very talented and has a bright future ahead of him."

The Nets have held onto Drejer's draft rights for two years. According to press reports, Drejer has a three year deal with Virtus Bologna, with a buyout after this year and an "NBA opt-out" that permits him to leave Virtus without a buyout after next year. He currently makes about a half million dollars in Italy.

He disappointed in the Reebok Summer League following his lost season in Barcelona, averaging only 2.6 ppg on 18.2% shooting in five games for the Nets' entry in the Las Vegas competition.