Lottery player to look out for next year
First and foremost I would like to pay my respects to the players that this article is NOT about. It was a tough call but in the end Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard were not the selected. Instead we will look at what is now considered a lost art…. A dominant Center. That is why I think Orlando Magic Center Nikola Vucevic is going to be someone to look out for next year. Vucevic is coming off his second year as a pro in which he surprised many (especially the 76’ers). Nikola was acquired in the Dwight Howard trade that sent Andre Igoudala to the Nuggets. He was viewed as nothing more than a throw in, after a relatively disappointing rookie campaign. The 22 year old from USC (born in Switzerland) thrived in his expanded role starting all of the 77 possible games he played in. Here is a breakdown to what we saw from him this year
Scoring- Vucevic proved that he could score consistently and efficiently. He averaged 13 PPG on 52% shooting from the field (22nd in NBA). He showed a variety of moves in the post and could even step out to knock down 15 footers. The real key to his offensive success is the way he attacks the glass. Vucevic gets plenty of easy looks inside on put backs and tip-ins. This is great for the Magic because he doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands to be effective. His 68% FT percentage is one of the top marks in the league for a center.
Rebounding- This is where Nikola truly separates himself from other big men. In my opinion he is the best pure rebounding center in the NBA. He truly works for his rebounds and battles every night. He finished second in the NBA with 12 RPG (only behind Dwight Howard.) He also is the only player this year to have 5 games with 20 plus rebounds. If he continues at this rate and stays consistent, he could lead the league in RPG by next year.
Defense- Probably the least exciting thing about him is his defense. Not that he is bad a t defense, he is just isn’t a dominant shot blocker that had become typical in today’s NBA. He plays his position well and puts up a Block and Steal per game. His ability to clear the defensive glass does make up for most of his shortcomings on this side of the floor.
Outlook-The future is bright for young Vucevic who is on his way to superstardom (and a max contract). If he can continue his current production and improve he could be the best Center in the game. Next year will obviously be a rebuilding year for the Magic (We have them selecting Ben Mclemore first in our mock draft) but they could build a foundation for success in the future. Many teams lack a stud centerpiece in the middle but GM Rob Hennigan was able to find this diamond in the rough. Who says he can’t do it again? (And again and again…).
2013-2014 stat predictions-
15.8 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 2 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1 SPG and 70% from the line