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Last season marked the center's first full campaign with the Bulls after he was traded to Chicago during the 2020-21 trade deadline. While he continued to put up strong counting stats -- 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks -- his efficiency took a significant and surprising step backward. In 2020-21, he slashed 48/40/84, and that dropped to 47/31/76 last year. However, most of that damage was done early in the season. In October, November and December, he shot just 42/35/64 for 15.8 points per game, which increased to 18.7 points per game on 50/29/82 shooting from January onward. Optimistic fantasy managers could assume the start of the year was simply an adjustment period for Vucevic, and his numbers in the final months of the season will be more representative of his future production. Ultimately, he'll still be a high-usage offensive option and is a walking 15-and-10 with a few assists thrown in. He ranked 37th in fantasy for per-game production last year, so managers who want to secure a high-floor center in the first few rounds can turn to the veteran.
In 2020-21, Vucevic was named an All-Star for the second time in three seasons. He began the season in Orlando before being dealt to Chicago at the trade deadline. The center posted similar numbers with both clubs, finishing with overall averages of 23.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33.5 minutes. He also put up a 48/40/84 shooting line, fueling one of the more efficient and well-rounded offensive seasons from a big man. That led to him ranking a career-high 13th in per-game fantasy production -- his second time inside the top-20. The Bulls are a re-loaded team heading into 2021-22. Zach LaVine remains on the roster, while offseason moves brought in both Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan. This team figures to be the most talent Vucevic has ever been surrounded by. While that could be good for his legacy, it may negatively impact his overall production. He won't be desperately relied upon to score nearly 25 points per game like he was in Orlando. With LaVine and DeRozan in the mix, there will be plenty of nights when Vucevic won't have to score more than 15 or 20 points. As a result, it wouldn't be surprising if his fantasy value takes a step back. He'll still be one of the best fantasy centers available, but don't bank on Vucevic cruising to early-second-round value again.
Vucevic followed up his 2018-19 All-Star campaign with a similar showing in 2019-20. The big man remained the key offensive force for the Magic, averaging 19.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 threes and 1.7 combined steals-plus-blocks. In addition to his great counting stats, Vucevic is a strong free-throw shooter for a big man, hitting 78.4 percent of his attempts last season. His statistical profile ranked 35th in fantasy on a per-game basis in eight-category leagues. Heading into 2020-21, Vucevic's role is practically cemented, as Orlando isn't expected to add any talent to compete with him as its primary offensive option. As a result, fantasy managers should feel confident selecting Vucevic in the third or fourth round knowing he's a double-double machine who can boost rebounding numbers without hurting free-throw percentage -- which can be an elusive combination.
Vucevic made his first All-Star team last season, earning a four-year, $100 million extension with the Magic in the process. He set career highs nearly across the board and helped lead the Magic to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12. Vucevic has done a good job adapting to the modern, spaced-out NBA, converting 148 total threes across the past two campaigns after making just 30 combined across the prior six seasons. Considering the Magic have one of the thinnest point guard rotations in the league, much of the offense runs through Vucevic. He was one of only six players qualifying at center last season to have a usage rate of at least 25 percent -- the others being Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Embiid and Julius Randle. Heading into the 2019-20 campaign, Orlando's roster is essentially the same, so Vucevic's role will be secure. As a result, it's fair for fantasy owners to expect extremely similar production from the 29-year-old.
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.
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.