2019 NBA Free Agents: Nikola Vucevic
2018-19 was a career year for Magic big man Nikola Vucevic. He improved across the board, on both ends of the floor. His elite rebounding, perimeter shooting combined with an upgrade on the defensive end earned him a maiden All-Star selection. While Orlando fans should be disappointed with his postseason form that shouldn’t shy away from the incredible regular season he had.
Regular Season Stats: 20.8 PPG, 54.9 2P%, 36.4 3P%, 78.9 FT%, 3.8 AST, 12 REB, 2 TOV, 1 STL,1.1 BLK
Postseason Stats: 11.2 PPG, 40 2P%, 23.1 3P%, 78.6 FT%, 0.4 AST, 8 REB, 2.6 TOV, 0.4 STL,1 BLK
Vucevic is one of the best scoring big men in the league with an array of post moves to go with elite three-point shooting. He’s also a quality rebounder, finishing five seasons of his career in the top 20 for rebounds per game.
Despite not being known for his defensive abilities, last season the center finished eighth in the league in defensive rating. Vucevic also has taken jumps as a passer where he averaged a career high in assists per game.
The native Montenegrin statistically had his best defensive season. In saying that, he’s by no means an elite rim protector and defensive presence you often want out of your starting center.
With that, he doesn’t possess great athleticism to help nullify his weaknesses on that end of the floor. This inhibits his defense not just around the rim but in the pick and roll as well.
Vucevic has proven himself to be a long term starting center on a playoff team. Though his defensive limitations prevent him from being a championship caliber big men like Raptors’ center Marc Gasol.
Possible landing spots:
The Magic remain in prime position to retain their All-Star big man. The team that’s been most rumoured to be clamoring for his services is the Sacramento Kings. With Al Horford’s status in Boston on shaky ground look for them to possibly get in the Vucevic sweepstakes as well.
Expected next contract:
It’s hard to gauge the money Vucevic will command from Orlando or a rival team. I forecast a contract of somewhere in the range of four-five years at $20-25 million a season.