Vucevic Continues to be Incredibly Efficient

by Josh Cohen

PHOENIX - In the 132 games he appeared in the last two seasons combined, Nikola Vucevic averaged 3.8 shot attempts from within five feet of the basket.

Already this year through 23 games, the Magic’s 7-footer is averaging 5.4 attempts from this range.

There isn’t a spot on the floor where Vucevic can’t make a shot from, just one reason why he is averaging a career-best 21.0 points while shooting 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point distance this season.

The closer he gets to the hoop, though, the more difficult it is for defenders to stop him. The 28-year-old is shooting a remarkable 72 percent from less than five feet away and 53 percent from between five and nine feet out.

Just two seasons ago, by comparison, Vucevic shot 59 and 46 percent, respectively, from those two ranges.

He’s also been much more efficient than most of his counterparts around the league. Karl-Anthony Towns, for instance, is shooting 64 percent from five feet out and 49 percent from five to nine feet away, while Joel Embiid is currently at 63 and 39 percent.

Against the Suns on Friday, with Deandre Ayton guarding him most of the night, the eight-year NBA veteran made five of his seven shot attempts from within five feet. Phoenix, like most other teams this season, had no answer for his nifty footwork and soft touch around the basket.

Vucevic currently ranks sixth in the NBA in total points from post-ups, per Second Spectrum, behind Embiid, LaMarcus Aldridge, Towns, Kevin Durant and Enes Kanter. Last season, he wasn’t in the top 20 in this category.

Vucevic’s teammates did a great job finding him when a smaller defender got switched onto him down low during Friday’s win, as shown here:

By posting 25 points against the Suns, Vooch scored at least 20 in each of the last four contests of Orlando’s five-game West Coast trip. He has also made at least 50 percent of his shot attempts in nine straight games.