Player Capsules: Nikola Vucevic
By John Denton
April 22, 2013
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic’s run of six straight seasons in the playoffs is over, ending the Eastern Conference’s longest such streak. But not all is lost for a Magic franchise with a bright future.
The Magic have a history of success that says that the franchise will soon be back in the NBA’s postseason. In the past 20 years, the Magic have made the playoffs 14 times – the fifth most times of any NBA franchise. And since the 1992-93 season, Orlando has had a .500-or-better record 16 times – also the fourth-best mark in the NBA over that time frame.
There are plenty of positives to come out of the 2012-13 season as the Magic have established a core of promising young players and they have a base of veterans expected to return next season.
Orlando also has secured the best odds at getting the top overall pick in the June 27 NBA Draft. The draft order will be determined in the May 21 NBA lottery, a process in which the Magic have a 25 percent chance of winning. The Magic have won the NBA’s top overall pick three times, and the last time they were in this situation they won the top pick and used it to select Dwight Howard in 2004.
Looking back on the 2012-13 season, we here at orlandomagic.com are going to spend the next two weeks breaking down each of the players currently on the 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
JERSEY NUMBER: 9
HEIGHT, WEIGHT: 7-0, 240
NBA SEASONS: 2
2012-13 SEASON STATS: 13.1 ppg., 11.9 rpg., 1.9 apg., 1.0 bpg., 51.9 percent FG, 68.3 percent FT.
2012-13 SEASON HIGHS: 30 points (April 10 vs. Bucks); 29 rebounds (Dec. 31 vs. Heat); 6 assists (April 7 vs. Cavs); 4 steals (April 3 vs. Spurs); 4 blocks (Dec. 2 vs. Lakers); 47 minutes (Jan. 7 vs. Blazers).
FAVORITE MOMENT: Vucevic said easily his favorite moment of the season was Dec. 31 when the Magic hosted the Miami Heat at the Amway Center. Playing before the largest crowd to ever see a basketball game in Orlando, all Vucevic did was break Shaquille O’Neal’s 18-year-old franchise record with 29 rebounds. He grabbed a whopping 18 defensive rebounds and another 11 on the offensive glass, allowing him to outrebound Miami center Chris Bosh 29 to 4. Vucevic also scored 20 points for the first 20-point, 20-rebound game of his career.
OF NOTE: Vucevic became a key figure this past season with the Magic as much because of his consistency as his domination. He ranked second in the NBA in rebounding (11.9 rpg.), trailing only former Magic center Dwight Howard (12.4 rpg). He was also third in the NBA in double-doubles, racking up 46 this season. He had four 20-rebound games, 18 15-rebound games and 56 double-digit rebound games. His 30-point, 20-rebound effort on April 10 in an overtime defeat of Milwaukee showed off his vast promise for the future.
FUTURE ROLE WITH THE MAGIC: Vucevic, whom Magic GM Rob Hennigan smartly acquired from Philadelphia in the Howard trade, has a bright future with the Magic after using this past season to establish himself as one of the NBA’s breakout players of the year. He is a strong candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award after boosting his scoring average 7.1 points per game and elevating his rebounding average 7.6 boards a game. Near the end of the season he began to show more moves in the post and toughness with his back to the basket. His mission this offseason is to become a stronger and more physical player so that the Magic can drop the ball to him in the post and expect positive results. He is also hoping that added strength and explosion will help him become a better shot blocker and defender down low. With a father and mother who played professionally, Vucevic has been around the game all his life, loves it and seeks to get better. Already, he is a cornerstone building block for the Magic and he figures to only get better as his body matures and his game progresses.
MORE STORIES: Pieces in Place for Future Success
Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
Follow John Denton on Twitter here