Nikola Vucevic, Center, Orlando Magic
After the KP trade was recorded, rumors of the Mavs going after Nikola Vucevic randomly gained traction. Nothing is wrong with Vucevic, however, it feels like the reason MFFLs want him is for the All-Europe Big 3. While that’s cool, don’t underestimate how good he’s been for the Magic this season.
For the first time since Dwight Howard was ranked as the second best player in the league by ESPN, the Magic made the playoffs. In that really long time, they’ve been largely irrelevant. They ruin their draft picks careers on draft night and sign average players to ridiculous contracts. (*cough* Bismack Biyombo *cough*) The reality is, Orlando making it to the playoffs this season required some impressive play from a team with absolutely no backcourt.
So where did they get their production? A front court combination of Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic can definitely do some damage if they combine for 36 PPG, 19.5 RPG, 7.5 APG, and 1.8 BLKPG. Individual statistics aside, that’s some very solid numbers for a back court duo.
Then throw in Vucevic’s individual stats. This season he finally made the All Star team averaging 20 PPG on 52/36/79 shooting line and 12 RPG. Let’s not forget to mention he averaged 3.8 APG and attempted 3 three’s per game. Not only did Vucevic prove he’s more than a capable “stretch 5,” but also he proved he’s an extremely dominant center in the league.
What would he do in Dallas… Everything he was asked to do in Orlando. In fact, he would provide a way more diverse offensive game than what DeAndre Jordan provided last season. (Not saying what DJ did was ineffective last season, but the way this team passes around the ball, you don’t expect him to make threes)
Vucevic offensively can shoot anywhere. He already had a decent mid range and post game. This season he really made strides in his 3 point shooting and general efficiency. He also is a better than average play maker averaging 3.8 assists per game. The Magic were 13th in the league in passing while Dallas was a poor 22nd in total assists per game.
Bringing a guy like Vucevic makes the starting lineup extremely lethal because he is so well rounded. He definitely had a lot of motivation to play his all every night last season, and we should see no difference if he comes to Mavs. The 28 year old could hoist the Larry O’Brien with KP and Luka within the next few years if all goes well.
However, that’s the issue… He needs to arrive in Dallas. No matter how much we believe Vooch will depart from Orlando, we can’t assume it’s a forgone conclusion he’s coming here. He will be drawing a lot of offers, some from better teams than the Mavs. He also would like to stay in Orlando if the deal is mutually beneficial.
In recent memory, DeAndre Jordan and Hassan Whiteside have left us wondering “what if” after free agency. If we brace ourselves with Vooch, the negative impact won’t be as potent.