Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic
28-Year-Old CenterC
Orlando Magic
2018 Fantasy Outlook
The big man struggled to stay healthy last season, appearing in only 57 games. That’s often been the case with Vucevic, as he’s averaging 67.5 games played over the past six campaigns. But, per usual, he remained productive in his time. Seeing 29.5 minutes per game in 2017-18, Vucevic recorded 29 double-doubles and averaged 16.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and a combined 2.1 blocks/steals. He’s also in the process of adding range, hitting a career-high 1.1 threes at 31.4 percent. However, for the first time since his rookie year, Vucevic’s role will be threatened. With the fifth overall pick in this summer’s draft, the Magic selected high-upside center Mo Bamba out of Texas. Bamba isn't a lock to start, but it’s expected there will be a battle for playing time between the two bigs. As a result, Vucevic’s Fantasy stock is taking a hit, and his Average Draft Position will likely drop relative to last season. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a four-year, $100 million contract with the Magic in July of 2019.
Reaches new deal with Orlando
COrlando Magic
July 1, 2019
Vucevic agreed Sunday to re-sign with the Magic on a four-year, $100 million contract, the Associated Press reports.
ANALYSIS
Rumors surfaced in the days leading up to the start of free agency Sunday that Vucevic was likely to stick around in Orlando rather than pursue work elsewhere, and the Magic acted quickly to ensure that would be the case. The 28-year-old should continuing serving as a fulcrum piece for the Magic after leading the team to its first playoff berth since 2011-12 and earning his first All-Star appearance last season. The center averaged 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.1 triples and 1.0 steal per game in 2018-19, numbers that all matched or surpassed his previous career-best marks.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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Vucevic continues to be one of the better, and increasing rare, “pure” centers in the NBA -- still working largely off post ups and mid-range jumpers. For example, he took 203 hook shots last season, making them at an efficient 55.2 percent clip. He also fired off 611 jump shots, with just 76 of them coming from beyond the arc, making a subpar 39.0 percent. Regardless, Vucevic, at his 28.8 minutes per game last season, has shown an ability to stay on the floor in many different lineup combinations and situations. That, in large part, has to do with the 26-year-old continuing to improve many different areas of his game. In addition to stretching his shooting range, the 7-foot, 260-pound center has become a better passer, rebounder and defender. Last season, Vucevic posted career highs per 36 minutes in rebounds (13.0), assists (3.5) and steals (1.3) while tying his career high in blocks (1.2) outside of his rookie season, where he played just 812 minutes. Health was somewhat of an issue early in Vucevic’s career, but he’s averaged 71.3 games played over the past three years. While that isn’t ideal, many big men of his caliber fall around that range as well. Coach Frank Vogel brought Vucevic off the bench at points throughout last season in an attempt to fix the team’s struggles, but reserve center Bismack Biyombo didn’t exactly impress in a starting role. For that reason, it seems safe to say that Vucevic should garner the 30-ish minute-per-game workload we’re used to seeing from since the 2012-13 season. Assuming he continues to make minor improvements to his game, Vucevic should continue being a top-15 Fantasy threat from the center slot.
Vucevic missed a combined 17 games a season ago due to knee, groin and leg injuries, but when active, he remained one of the more productive fantasy centers around. Though he saw his numbers dip in most areas with coach Scott Skiles limiting his playing time a little more compared to the year before, Vucevic still pumped out averages of 18.2 points (on 51.0% shooting), 8.9 boards, 2.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.8 steals in 31.1 minutes per game. For all the great work he did in shouldering the offense, Vucevic remains a below-average defender, with his decline as a rebounder and shot blocker in particular making him a liability on that end. Those flaws in Vucevic’s game evidently rankled the organization, as the team put significant resources into improving their defensive effort in the frontcourt during the offseason by trading for Serge Ibaka and signing Bismack Biyombo. Both players are long, fleet-footed shot blockers who fit the mold of what new coach Frank Vogel is looking for defensively from his big men, while Vucevic is in the antithesis of that. As such, there’s some uncertainty heading into the upcoming season whether Vucevic will be able to hold off Biyombo for the starting center job, much less remain with the Magic for the entire year. Considering Biyombo was signed to a four-year, $72 million deal, it seems likely that, if not traded, Vucevic will at the very least cede plenty of court time to Biyombo, which would result in a stark downgrade in his fantasy value. Vucevic might still be capable of approaching double-double production even in a reduced role, but don’t invest in him with the expectation that he’ll be able to replicate last year’s numbers.
Narrowly missing an All-Star berth, Vucevic turned in the best season of his career after signing a four-year extension last summer. In a career-high 34 minutes per game over 74 contests, Vucevic averaged 19.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks while shooting 52 percent from the field and 75 percent from the foul line. He was one of 17 players to shoot at least 50 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line last season. The 24-year-old Montenegrin remained a prolific and rabid mid-range shooter, hoisting 460 shots from that zone, and an incredible rebounder, recording 45 double-doubles, fifth most in the NBA. Vucevic continued to struggle on defense, allowing opponents to convert 54 percent of their shots at the rim, the catalyst behind former interim coach James Borrego slotting Dewayne Dedmon into the starting lineup. His free-throw rate declined because of his propensity to hoist from mid-range and ineptitude at establishing post position on offense. The Magic welcome experienced head coach Scott Skiles to the sidelines this season, and Vucevic has proven he's the optimal choice at starting center.
Nikola Vucevic is entering his fourth NBA season. The 24-year-old center averaged 14.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 32 minutes over the course of 57 games last season. Vucevic shot 50 percent from the field on 12.2 attempts per game and 77 percent from the free-throw line on 2.4 attempts per game. Playing two fewer minutes per game, his stats across the board showed little statistical improvement, with the exception of an eight percent increase in free-throw shooting, becoming one of fifteen centers to shoot better than 50 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line last season. Vucevic cemented his reputation as a prolific rebounder, possessing the 10th best rebounding rate last season (27.6 percent) and finishing eighth in rebounds per game. His 36 double-doubles in only 57 games left him tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference, with Nikola Pekovic recording the next most double-doubles (23) for those with fewer than 60 games played (54). Vucevic is close to automatic outside of 16 feet (44 percent mid-range), a three percent improvement from his previous season. The one flaw in his game remains his defense, where he allowed opponents to shoot 56 percent at the rim, manifesting itself into a mediocre block rate.
Vucevic was one of the true breakout fantasy options last season. After playing a limited role in Philly as a rookie, Vucevic was sent to Orlando as part of a seemingly under-whelming package in the three-team Dwight Howard trade. A rebuilding Magic squad wasted no time making Vucevic a significant part of the rotation, enlisting him as the team's starting center from Day 1. The 22-year-old big man responded with averages of 13.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 33 minutes per game. He showed marked improvements in his shooting efficiency (52 percent from the floor, 68 percent from the line) during his sophomore campaign, and given his 75-percent shooting clip from the charity stripe during his collegiate career, there's still some room for growth. He's a double-double machine with a polished low-post game and decent jump shot and should continue to thrive as one of Orlando's new building blocks.
The 16th overall pick in the 2011 draft put together a decent but under-the-radar rookie season for the Sixers last year. He finished with averages of 5.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in just 16 minutes per game. Those numbers don’t jump out of the box score, but his per-36 minute averages of 12.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks do hint at his potential. And that potential could be realized as soon as this season thanks to an offseason trade to the Magic. As part of the Dwight Howard deal, Vucevic lands on a rebuilding Magic team that will be desperate for production in the low post. He has great size (7-0, 260) while also possessing a strong face-up jumper and a decent feel around the basket. Like many young players, Vucevic still needs to work on his efficiency, as he shot just 45 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent from the free-throw line. At 22, Vucevic will probably need a couple of years to reach his full potential, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn a significant role in Orlando. Don’t forget his name when targeting breakout candidates for your fantasy frontcourt.
The first-round draft pick (16th overall) will have an opportunity to play some significant minutes at center. Coach Doug Collins has mentioned that he expects Vucevic to get about 15 minutes per game, but if Spencer Hawes continues to struggle with his inconsistency, Vucevic could capitalize on the opportunity to earn more floor time. Collins likes his mobility, his feel around the post, and his strong jump shot. He could provide fantasy value in deeper leagues.
More Fantasy News
Magic planning $90 million offer
COrlando Magic
June 28, 2019
The Magic are planning to offer Vucevic a four-year, $90 million contract offer, Mark Stein of The New York Times reports.
ANALYSIS
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Disappears as Magic head home
COrlando Magic
April 23, 2019
Vucevic totaled six points (3-10 FG, 0-2 3Pt), seven rebounds and an assist over 17 minutes in the Magic's loss to the Raptors on Tuesday.
ANALYSIS
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Sees downturn in production
COrlando Magic
April 21, 2019
Vucevic managed 11 points (5-14 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 1-2 FT), five rebounds, two assists and one steal across 32 minutes during the Magic's 107-85 loss to the Raptors in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series Sunday.
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Huge stat line in loss
COrlando Magic
April 20, 2019
Vucevic totaled 22 points (7-13 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 6-6 FT), 14 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and a steal over 39 minutes in the Magic's loss to the Raptors on Friday.
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Comes up small in loss
COrlando Magic
April 17, 2019
Vucevic totaled six points (3-7 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 0-2 FT), six rebounds, three assists and a block over 25 minutes in the Magic's loss to the Raptors on Tuesday.
ANALYSIS
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