Nemanja Bjelica
Nemanja Bjelica
32-Year-Old ForwardF
Sacramento Kings
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Bjelica finished with career highs across nearly every category last season, including points (9.6), rebounds (5.8), assists (1.9), threes (1.3), blocks (0.7) and minutes (23.2) per game. Bjelica also matched his career high in steals per game (0.7), turned in a career-best field goal percentage (47.9), appeared in a career-high 77 games, and drew over three times as many starts (70) as he did through his first three seasons combined (22). Bjelica's ability to stretch the floor from beyond the arc (40.1 percent) helped him hold down the fort as the starting power forward on the Kings for the vast majority of the campaign. Still, Marvin Bagley was slowly but surely eating away at Bjelica's minutes as the year went on, and it's reasonable to assume that will continue going forward, not to mention the addition of Trevor Ariza. All things considered, it could prove difficult for Bjelica to maintain last season's per-game averages, and he should only be considered in the late rounds of most fantasy leagues. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $20.48 million contract with the Kings in July of 2018.
Personal Bio

Bjelica is the son of Milovan and Slavica Bjelica. He was born in 1988 in Belgrade, Serbia, when the city was still the capital of Yugoslavia. Before joining the Timberwolves in 2015, Bjelica played professionally in Austria, Serbia, Spain and Turkey. His full name is pronounced NEH-men-yah bee-a-LITZ-ah. He credits legendary Serbian and European coach Svetislav Pesic with much of his basketball development. Since 2009, the 6-foot-10 forward has played with the Serbian National Team. Also known as "Belly", the big man helped plant trees at Common Ground Church in Sacramento as part of the Green Acres City of 3's program. He was married in 2012, and former NBA player Nenad Kristic was his best man at the wedding. Fans can follow "Belly" on Twitter (@NemanjaBjelica) and Instagram (nemanjabjelica8).

College/International Summary

Nemanja Bjelica played professionally in four different countries before joining the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015. He started his professional career in 2007-08 in the Austrian League with the Arkadia Traiskrichen Lions, with whom he averaged 8.5 points over 26 contests. He then returned to his native Serbia for two seasons with Crvena zvezda. Despite his 6-foot-10 frame, he was trusted with frequent ball handling duties. After his second season in Serbia, Bjelica was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, but his rights were traded to Minnesota shortly afterwards. Later that summer Bjelica opted to sign an agreement with the Spanish club Saski Baskonia. He played three seasons with Baskonia and, in his last season, averaged 9.9 points with 4.8 rebounds while shooting 46 percent from the field. "Belly" then played two seasons with Turkish team Fenerbahce Ulker. With Fenerbahce, Bjelica was named the EuroLeague MVP for the 2014-15 season. He led the EuroLeague that year in defensive rebounds (192). He was second in rebounds (246), as well as third in steals (37), seventh in offensive rebounds (54) and ninth in points (350). Bjelica finally joined the Timberwolves in 2015.

Career-high 13 dimes in finale
FSacramento Kings
August 13, 2020
Bjelica recorded 15 points (5-8 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 4-5 FT), 13 assists, eight rebounds, two steals and one block in 32 minutes during Thursday's 136-122 win over the Kings.
ANALYSIS
Bjelica flirted with a triple-double in the finale, and his passing was especially great. He dropped a career-high 13 dimes to only one turnover, helping facilitate the offense with De'Aaron Fox (shoulder) out.
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Past Season Summaries
2019

The 2019-20 season was Bjelica's fifth NBA season and his second year with Sacramento. The 31-year-old appeared in all 64 games for the Kings with 61 starts. The pandemic-shortened season was arguably his best season to date as he posted per-game career highs in points (11.9), rebounds (6.4), assists (2.8), steals (0.8), three-pointers (2.0) and minutes played (28.5). He also shot a career-high 82.2 percent from the free throw line and a career-best 42.4 percent from three-point land. Those numbers, and an efficient 47.5 percent from the field, led to a career-best 57.9 effective field goal percentage. On Nov. 17, Bjelica grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds, to go with 12 points, four assists and one block, during a home win over the Celtics. For the season, the forward had eight double-doubles. On Jan. 13, Bjelica erupted for a career-high 34 points in a loss against the Magic, when he shot 13-of-16 from the field while knocking down a career-best 8-of-10 three-point attempts. The big Serbian twice dished a career-high eight assists, including a 20-point, eight-assist, three-block effort on Jan. 27 in a win at Minnesota. Bjelica's 42.4 percent three-point shooting ranked 7th in the Association. His 412 total rebounds led the Kings.

2018

The 2018-19 season was Nemanja Bjelica's first season with the Kings and his fourth in the Association. The move to Sacramento proved wise, as the 6-foot-10 forward delivered career-high per game averages in points (9.6), rebounds (5.8), assists (1.9), blocks (0.7) and made threes (1.3) from 23.2 minutes per contest. Sure, some of that is due to slight bump in playing time, but Bjelica saw a solid 20.5 minutes per game last season with Minnesota. The big Serbian also played in a career-high 77 games with the Kings. Bjelica grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 11 games, including two games with 15-plus boards, and recorded nine double-doubles. On Oct. 26, Bjelica scored a season-high 26 points and hit a career-high matching six threes, to go with 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in a win over Washington. On Dec. 16, the big forward posted a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and a career-high four blocks in a win at Dallas. On Mar. 23, Bjelica grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, to go with 13 points and five assists, in a win over the Suns.

2017

In his third NBA season, Bjelica set new career highs in games played, starts, minutes per game and scoring average. The Serbian played in 67 games for the Timberwolves with 21 starts, averaging 20.5 minutes per game after seeing around 18 minutes per contest during his first two NBA campaigns. He was able to boost his scoring to 6.8 points per game on 46.1 percent shooting from the field, including a new career-best 41.5 percent from 3-point range. Bjelica also set a new career high with 4.1 rebounds per contest. As a starter, the 29-year-old saw his minutes jump dramatically to 34 per night, and his scoring went up to 10.8 points per game. Bjelica also averaged 6.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in a starting role. He saw his most run in March, when he started all 13 games he appeared in and scored 11.0 points per game. Bjelica also had his best game of the season in the month, posting a career-high 30 points against the Celtics on 11-of-16 shooting during a Mar. 8 loss. The veteran scored in double figures in 16 total games. Bjelica also grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds on two separate occasions and recorded one double-double. The Timberwolves finished with a winning record of 47-35 and lost to the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Bjelica played in all five Minnesota playoff games for his first career post-season action. In the Game 2 loss at Houston, the Serbian forward generated 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals over 19 minutes of run.

2016

After several years playing in Europe, the 2016-17 season was Bjelica's second season in the NBA. The 28-year-old continued in his role with Minnesota, receiving major minutes as a frontcourt reserve. Bjelica appeared in 65 games (versus 60 last season) and played 18.3 minutes per contest, up slightly from last year's 17.9 minute mark. On Nov. 13, the versatile Serbian received his first NBA start and scored a career-high 24 points, to go with eight rebounds, a career-best five three-pointers, three assists and three steals, during a big home win over the Lakers. For the season, Bjelica scored in double-digits in 15 games. On Feb. 27, Bjelica registered the first of back-to-back double-doubles with 10 points and 12 rebounds in a win at Sacramento. In the next game at Utah, Bjelica scored 13 points and grabbed 11 boards during a win over the Jazz. The 6-foot-10 forward had three double-doubles for the season. Bjelica missed the Timberwolves' last 15 games due to an injury to his left foot which resulted in surgery in late-March. When it was all said and done, Bjelica finished the season with per-game averages of 6.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.9 three-pointers per contest.

2015

After playing on four different professional teams from four different European nations, Bjelica joined the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2015-16 season. The 27-year-old made his NBA debut on Opening Night, Oct. 28, and posted eight points, five rebounds and two assists in a road win over the Lakers. On Nov. 7, he registered his first career NBA double-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists during a win at Chicago. Bjelica recorded three double-doubles during the season. A left knee contusion forced "Belly" to miss four games in late November. A foot injury then forced Bjelica to miss 11 games in February and March. On April 7, the NBA rookie scored a season-high 18 points, to go with four rebounds and four three-pointers, during a win at Sacramento. Four days later, the versatile Serbian forward double-doubled with 11 points and season-best 14 rebounds in a home loss to the Rockets. For the season, Bjelica came off the bench in 60 games and averaged 5.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.8 three-pointers per game. He shot 46.8 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from behind the arc.

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Transaction History
  • June 24, 2010
    Drafted by the Washington Wizards in the 2nd round (35th pick) of the 2010 NBA Draft, who traded his rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  • July 13, 2015
    Signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  • July 20, 2018
    Signed a three-year contract as a free agent with the Sacramento Kings.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
Bjelica saw the most run of his career last season with the Timberwolves, which was the third year of his NBA career. At age 29, he averaged 6.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 20.5 minutes per tilt. Notably, he shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc, drilling 1.1 threes per tilt. He also started 21 games in the wake of Jimmy Butler’s knee injury, averaging 10.8 points in those efforts, which included one 30-point double-double against the Celtics. This year, it’s unlikely he garners a bigger role with the Kings. he'll presumably be a backup to Marvin Bagley at power forward, and may be able to compete for some time at small forward. Plus, even when he garnered significant run last season, his upside was relatively low, save for one performance. So, Bjelica can probably be safely avoided in most standard Fantasy leagues in 2018-19.
Bjelica’s second year in the league wasn’t much different as his first, as he garnered just 18.3 minutes, providing 6.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. The 29-year-old also shot just 42.4 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from deep last season compared to 46.8 and 38.4 respectively two seasons ago. He likely won’t be in line for much of a workload boost heading into the 2017-18 season, either, as the Timberwolves added veteran power forward Taj Gibson to the mix over the summer, not to mention already-present Gorgui Dieng. Bjelica will seemingly have to fight hard in training camp to have any chance to boost his role. As a result, he can probably be safely avoided in seemingly every Fantasy format on draft day.
Though he was first selected in the 2010 NBA Draft, Bjelica didn't immediately transition into the NBA. Instead, he elected to remain in Serbia to hone his craft, and ended his Euroleague career as the 2015 MVP of the league. The 27-year-old finally made his NBA debut this season, and introduced himself to the league by drilling multiple triples in five of his first nine appearances. However, a knee injury ended up providing a roadblock in the rookie's season, and he subsequently fell out of coach Sam Mitchell's rotation before reemerging in April. Bjelica then sat out the 2016 Summer Olympics while recovering from a leg injury. He may get a boost from new head coach Tom Thibodeau as his three-point shooting could get him significant minutes as one of the top front court options off the bench.
Bjelica is entering his first season in the NBA after being brought over from Turkey this offseason. As a 6-10 small forward, Bjelica has intriguing size for his position and should challenge for spot minutes at both forward slots for Minnesota in 2015-16. Bjelica's averages for 2014-15 were 12.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 28 minutes per game. He shot 35 percent on three-pointers for his European club last season, while making 0.9 three-pointers per game, so a stretch-four role is not out of the question for the first-year-player, should he earn one. Bjelica also has the reputation as a point-forward in Europe, despite only 1.9 assists last season in Turkey, so it's possible he has some playmaking upside as well. There will be an adjustment to professional ball in the United States, but it will be worth watching Bjelica in training camp, as his skill set could make him an interesting prospect should he carve out a role with the Timberwolves.
More Fantasy News
Rejoins starting lineup
FSacramento Kings
August 11, 2020
Bjelica is in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Pelicans, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee reports.
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Back in starting five
FSacramento Kings
August 6, 2020
Bjelica will start Thursday's game against the Pelicans, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reports.
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Double-doubles off bench
FSacramento Kings
August 4, 2020
Bjelica posted 12 points (5-8 FG, 2-2 3Pt), 13 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 35 minutes during Tuesday's 114-110 overtime loss to the Mavericks.
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Moving to bench
FSacramento Kings
August 4, 2020
Bjelica will shift to the bench for Tuesday's game against Dallas, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports.
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Posts 13 points in start
FSacramento Kings
July 22, 2020
Bjelica compiled 13 points (3-4 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 7-8 FT), three assists, two steals and a rebound across 18 minutes in Wednesday's 104-98 scrimmage loss to the Heat.
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