By Josh Cohen
April 20, 2017
It was a challenge for Nikola Vucevic to adjust to playing alongside a second big man. The chemistry between he and Serge Ibaka didn’t flow as hoped when they were paired in the frontcourt together.
The shift to a small-ball lineup helped Vucevic return to familiar form and he played far better after Ibaka was traded to Toronto for Terrence Ross. He averaged 16.5 points and 11.3 rebounds after the deal (13.9 and 10.1 before).
In particular, he shot it with more confidence from just inside the 3-point line. Between 20-24 feet out, Vucevic shot 44.4 percent after the All-Star break and 34.9 percent prior to that time off.
Watch Vucevic knock down the mid-range jay:
Vucevic also took baby steps into becoming a 3-point threat. With it being so new to him (only made seven triples prior to this season), Vucevic didn’t launch a ton of threes. He connected on 23 shots from beyond the arc on 75 tries.
Watch him bury the straightaway three:
Vucevic was an excellent playmaker and passer this year. He’s very unselfish and has a high basketball IQ. He dished out five or more assists in 15 games.
He excelled when he surveyed the court from the top of the key or when he posted-up. He also racked up a lot of assists off dribble handoffs.
Watch Vucevic deliver an assist to a cutting Aaron Gordon:
Vucevic did a superb job on the glass this year. He’s got very good timing and anticipation. He recorded 38 double-doubles and grabbed 15 or more rebounds nine times.
Developing a more reliable 3-point shot and continuing to figure out how he can have a greater defensive impact are two things to look for from Vucevic as he prepares for next season.
He is expected to play for his national team in FIBA EuroBasket later this summer.