2013-14 Season Review: Nikola Vucevic

Nikola Vucevic

By John Denton
April 24, 2014

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic made great strides during the 2013-14 season, notching several wins against some of the best teams in the NBA and witnessing major improvements by many of their players.

Orlando had a seven-win improvement at the Amway Center this past season while beating Oklahoma City, Indiana, Brooklyn (twice), the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland. Undoubtedly, the high point in the season came in mid-February when Orlando beat OKC at the buzzer and outlasted Indiana in the fourth quarter within a three-day span. At the time, the Thunder and the Pacers were the leaders in the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively.

Moments like those showed that the future is bright for a Magic squad loaded with promising young players such as Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless and steadied by the veteran leadership of Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson.

Orlando is also expected to add to his talent base in the June 26 NBA Draft. Orlando has secured the third-best odds at getting the top overall pick. The draft order will be determined in the May 20 NBA lottery, a process in which the Magic have a 16.6 percent chance of winning. The team with the third-best odds has won the NBA Draft Lottery each of the past two seasons (New Orleans with Anthony Davis and Cleveland with Anthony Bennett) and teams have won the lottery from the third spot eight times in the past 17 years.

The Magic have won the NBA’s top overall pick three times in their 25-year history, ending up with franchise fixtures Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and Dwight Howard.

Looking back on the 2013-14 season, we here at OrlandoMagic.com are going to spend the next three weeks breaking down each of the players currently on the Magic roster. We’ll look at their stats, highs and lows from the season, a favorite moment and analyze their role for the future.

So without further ado, here is today’s Magic player capsule:

NAME: Nikola Vucevic
HEIGHT, WEIGHT: 7-0, 250
AGE: 23

2013-14 SEASON STATS: 57 games, 14.2 ppg., 11.0 rpg., 1.8 apg., 50.7 percent FG, 76.6 percent FT.

2013-14 SEASON HIGHS: 30 points (Nov. 6 vs. Clippers); 23 rebounds (March 28 vs. Bobcats); 5 assists (twp times – most recent March 22 at Jazz); 3 steals (six times – most recent April 2 vs. Cavaliers); 46 minutes (Oct. 30 at Timberwolves).

BEST MOMENT: Vucevic’s strong play over the second half of the season was on display for all to see on March 28 when he totally dominated the Charlotte Bobcats. The 7-footer overcame a slow start shooting the ball by pounding the Bobcats for 24 points and 23 rebounds in an overtime victory. Vucevic made nine of his last 11 shots to lead a Magic rally in the second half. And he was a beast on the boards, grabbing 16 first-half rebounds and 10 offensive boards in the game. It was the sixth 20-point, 20-rebound game of Vucevic’s career. HONORABLE MENTION: Vucevic had another all-around masterpiece early in the season when he hit the Los Angeles Clippers for 30 points and 21 rebounds in another Amway Center victory.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Vucevic was nearly as active in the community as he was on the court this season, participating in 15 charitable events throughout Central Florida. On Dec. 20, Vucevic handed out Christmas presents to ill children and he also presented a $10,000 check to Florida Hospital from the Magic. Vucevic also conducted meet-and-greet events with two children with Down Syndrome and a rare genetic disorder.

FUTURE ROLE WITH THE MAGIC: Vucevic is undoubtedly a cornerstone piece of the Magic and his future with the team could be resolved as soon as this July when he is eligible for a long-term contract extension. Vucevic made great strides this season by becoming a better low-post scorer and a stronger player physically. His ability to dominate games on the glass – he had two 20-rebound games and nine 15-rebound games – is a skill that is hard to find. Vucevic’s season was interrupted several times by troublesome injuries. He missed time with two ankle injuries and was out for 12 games during the heart of the season with a concussion following a hard fall to the floor. Vucevic was also held out of the final four games of the season because of a sore left Achilles. Vucevic must continue to work on his strength level and become a more reliable play-maker out of the post. The Magic are confident that Vucevic will continue to work throughout the summer because of his desire to be a great player. He has the instincts, size and skill to be an elite center and it could be just a matter of time before that happens for him.