By Josh Cohen
July 12, 2017
ORLANDO — Nikola Vucevic made 23 3-pointers last season – 16 more than in his first five NBA seasons combined.
There’s a concerted effort by big men around the league to extend their range and improve their long-distance shooting.
Brook Lopez (134 3-pointers last season), DeMarcus Cousins (131), Marc Gasol (104) and Al Horford (86) have each modernized their games with the deep ball. Younger guys like Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid came into the NBA already capable of knocking down threes and now centers far less known for their offensive repertoires – Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside notably – have mentioned the possibility of adding a 3-point shot to their arsenals.
The game has changed in recent years – in large part to what the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have proven and accomplished. While there’s still certainly some old-school mentalities and philosophies among NBA coaching circles, most admit that it’s nearly impossible to be successful without 3-point shooting spread across the lineup.
Vucevic took a baby step forward with this component of his game last year and he stated in April that he planned on spending a lot of time this offseason working on the 3-ball.
When a team has a center that is reliable from beyond the arc, driving lanes open up for guys on the wing. The paint is less clogged and opposing big men tend to be hesitant to contest perimeter jumpers because they are programmed to crash the glass for rebounds.
The drawback of frontline guys taking an abundance of threes is that it often leads to fewer second chance scoring opportunities. In fact, the only team last season that ranked in the top 10 in both 3-pointers made and offensive rebounds was the Houston Rockets.
While it’s important he continues to post up and utilize his good footwork and touch around the basket, Vucevic’s ability to space the floor could prove to be a major boost for the Magic.
Here’s a look at a few excellent plays by the Magic that led to open 3-pointers from Vucevic.
AARON GORDON FORCES ALL FIVE KINGS PLAYERS TO COLLAPSE IN PAINT LEADING TO OPEN THREE
WHITESIDE HAS NO INTEREST CHALLENGING PERIMETER JUMPER
PICK-AND-POP NOW EXTENDS BEHIND 3-POINT LINE
VUCEVIC CAN SHOOT OVER SMALLER DEFENDERS ON SWITCHES
DRIVE, COLLAPSE DEFENSE AND KICK