Nemanja Bjelica

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Nemanja Bjelica
Nemanja Bjelica.jpg
Bjelica with the Serbian national team in August 2015
No. 88 – Minnesota Timberwolves
Position Power forward / Small forward
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1988-05-09) May 9, 1988 (age 29)
Belgrade, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
Nationality Serbian
Listed height 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight 225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
NBA draft 2010 / Round: 2 / Pick: 35th overall
Selected by the Washington Wizards
Playing career 2007–present
Career history
2007–2008 Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions
2008–2010 Crvena zvezda
2010–2013 Saski Baskonia
2013–2015 Fenerbahçe Ülker
2015–present Minnesota Timberwolves
Career highlights and awards
Stats at
Stats at

Nemanja Bjelica (Serbian Cyrillic: Немања Бјелица, pronounced [ˌněmaɲa ˈbjělit͜sa], born May 9, 1988) is a Serbian professional basketball player for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)[1] tall power forward, he represents the Serbian national basketball team internationally. His versatility and ball handling skills allow him to assume the point forward role on the court. Bjelica was an All-Euroleague First Team selection as well as the Euroleague MVP in 2015.

Professional career[edit]

Bjelica playing for Red Star.

Arkadia Traiskirchen (2007–2008)[edit]

Bjelica began his professional career in the 2007–08 season with the Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions of the Austrian League.

Crvena zvezda (2008–2010)[edit]

After one season abroad, he returned to the Serbian team Crvena zvezda, and spent two successful seasons there, under head coach Svetislav Pešić. During the 2008–09 season, he made breakthroughs, and earned a place in the first lineup. He was particularly noted for his performance during the EuroCup, for his outside shooting. Later in his career, Bjelica cited coach Pešić as one of the main reasons for his improvement as a player.[2] Coach Pešić trusted Bjelica with the ball, and gave the 6"10 Bjelica a primary ball handler role on several occasions, which helped to develop Bjelica as a play-maker.

Bjelica was drafted by the Washington Wizards with the 35th pick of the 2010 NBA draft. His draft rights were then traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.[3]

Saski Baskonia (2010–2013)[edit]

In August 2010, Bjelica signed a five-year contract with Spanish club Saski Baskonia.[4] In his first season with the club, he didn't get much playing time, averaging only 9 minutes played per game. In his second season with Baskonia, he averaged 4.8 points per game, on 56% shooting from the field, and 47% shooting from 3 point range, three in 13 minutes played per game. His third and last season with the club was the most successful, as he played in 26 games, with the averages of 9.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1 steal per game, on 46% shooting from the field.

Fenerbahçe Ülker (2013–2015)[edit]

On July 22, 2013, Bjelica signed a three-year deal with the Turkish team Fenerbahçe Ülker, which was led by one of Europe's great coaches, Željko Obradović.[5][6] He cited Obradović as the main reason why he didn't go to the NBA instead.[7] In the 2013–14 season, he already became one of the key Fenerbahçe Ülker players, averaging all career-highs of 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, over 24 EuroLeague games.

The following season, Bjelica's game saw its most improvement and consistency. On March 30, 2015, he was named the EuroLeague MVP of the Month for March, his first such monthly award in his career. Over 4 games played in March, he averaged 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block per game.[8] In May 2015, he was chosen to the All-EuroLeague First Team, for his performances over the season.[9] Eventually, Bjelica was named the EuroLeague MVP of the season.[10] Fenerbahçe also advanced to the EuroLeague Final Four for the first time in the team's history.[11] On May 15, 2015, however, they lost in the semifinal game to Real Madrid, by a score of 87–96.[12] Eventually, Fenerbahçe finished in 4th place, after losing in the third-place game to CSKA Moscow, by a score of 80–86.[13] Bjelica had his best season since coming to the club, averaging a career-high 12.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Fenerbahçe, however, finished the season without winning any trophy, after also losing in the semi-final series of the Tukish League championship, to the eventual league champions Pınar Karşıyaka.

On July 1, 2015, Bjelica opted out of his contract with Fenerbahçe in order to play in the NBA.[14]

Minnesota Timberwolves (2015–present)[edit]

On July 14, 2015, Bjelica signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.[15] He made his debut for the Timberwolves in their season opener on October 28, 2015, recording eight points and five rebounds in a 112–111 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.[16] On November 7, 2015, he had a season-best game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block against the Chicago Bulls. On April 7, 2016, he scored a season-high 18 points against the Sacramento Kings. Four days later, he recorded 11 points and a season-high 14 rebounds against the Houston Rockets.[17]

On November 13, 2016, Bjelica made his first career start and scored a career-high 24 points in a 125–99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.[18] On March 16, 2017, he was ruled out for the rest of the 2016–17 season with a left foot injury.[19] He underwent surgery five days later to repair a fractured navicular bone in his left foot.[20]

Serbian national team[edit]

Bjelica has won gold medal at the 2009 Summer Universiade, which was held in Belgrade.

Bjelica played with the senior Serbian national basketball team that won the silver medal at the EuroBasket 2009. He was also a member of the Serbian national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, where Serbia was defeated 99-88 by Lithuania in the game for the bronze medal, after they had earlier lost to hosts, Turkey, in a highly controversial semifinals finish. He was also capped for the national team of Serbia at the EuroBasket 2011, in Lithuania, where Serbia finished eighth.

During EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia, Bjelica became one of the veterans of a very young and incomplete Serbia squad, leading the team alongside captain Nenad Krstić and Nemanja Nedović. Serbia was eventually swept by Spain in the quarterfinals, but the team showed some good performances, particularly against Lithuania and France. During the tournament, he averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game, on 54% shooting from the field.

He was also a member of the Serbian national basketball team that won the silver medal at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup under head coach Aleksandar Đorđević. Although his three point shooting form wasn't impressive during the tournament, he was still one of the most important players of the team, filling all sorts of roles with his handling, passing, rebounding, and scoring. He ended the tournament with averages of 11.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.

He was also a member of the team that represented Serbia at the EuroBasket 2015.[21] In Serbia's opening game, an 80–70 win against Spain, he was Serbia's key player, posting 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. The following day, he made a game-winning shot against Germany. In the last match of the group phase, he scored 19 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had 4 assists against Italy. Serbia dominated in the tournament's toughest group, Group B, with a 5-0 record, and then eliminated Finland and the Czech Republic in the round of 16 and quarterfinal games, respectively. However, they were stopped in the semifinal game by Lithuania, by a score of 67–64,[22] and eventually lost to the host team, France, in the bronze-medal game, by a score of 81–68.[23] Being one of the team's leaders, along with Miloš Teodosić and Miroslav Raduljica, Bjelica averaged 13.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game, on 56.1% shooting from the field and 37.5% shooting from behind the three-point line.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Bjelica was brought up in the New Belgrade Blocks.[25] He is married to Mirjana. Their wedding took place in June 2012.[26]

Awards and accomplishments[edit]


Career statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  PIR  Performance Index Rating
 Bold  Career high

Note: The EuroLeague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season. He also played in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.


2010–11 Baskonia 13 2 9.0 .250 .222 .500 1.7 .5 .2 .0 1.2 0.5
2011–12 10 5 13.9 .563 .474 .750 2.1 1.0 1.3 .3 4.8 6.2
2012–13 26 9 23.1 .459 .310 .741 4.8 1.3 1.0 .3 9.9 10.1
2013–14 Fenerbahçe 24 18 25.1 .474 .416 .846 6.1 2.2 1.6 .4 10.4 13.6
2014–15 29 20 27.8 .500 .351 .684 8.5 1.9 1.3 .7 12.1 18.3
Career 102 54 22.2 .476 .358 .721 5.5 1.6 1.0 .4 9.0 11.6


Regular season[edit]

2015–16 Minnesota 60 0 17.9 .468 .384 .727 3.5 1.4 .4 .4 5.1
2016–17 Minnesota 65 1 18.3 .424 .316 .738 3.8 1.2 .6 .3 6.2
Career 125 1 17.9 .442 .344 .733 3.6 1.3 .5 .3 5.7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " - BJELICA, NEMANJA Height: 2.09". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "NEMANJA BJELICA ZA TELEGRAF: Da nije bilo Pešića, ostao bih prosečno krilo (VIDEO)". (in Serbian). 6 January 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Minnesota Acquires Draft Rights to Lazar Hayward". 2010-06-25. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  4. ^ "Caja Laboral lands Nemanja Bjelica". 2 August 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Fenerbahce will sign Nemanja Bjelica to a three-year deal". Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Bjelica kod Obradovića u Feneru". (in Serbian). Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Preradović, V. "Bjelica: Željko Obradović i ja, nestvarno!". (in Serbian) (23 July 2013). Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "bwin MVP for March: Nemanja Bjelica, Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul". Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "All-Euroleague First and Second Teams announced". Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "2014-15 bwin MVP: Nemanja Bjelica, Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul". 14 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Fenerbahce for the first time in the Final Four". 20 April 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Real Madrid heads to third straight final after beating Fenerbahce". 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "CSKA Moscow beats Fenerbahce in third-place game". 17 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  14. ^ "Fenerbahce opts out of Nemanja Bjelica's contract". 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  15. ^ "Timberwolves Sign Reigning Euroleague Most Valuable Player Nemanja Bjelica". July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Wolves edge Lakers 112-111 in first game since Flip's death". October 28, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Nemanja Bjelica 2015-16 Game Log". Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Wiggins scores 47 to lead Timberwolves over Lakers, 125-99". November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  19. ^ "NEMANJA BJELICA INJURY UPDATE". March 16, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  20. ^ "NEMANJA BJELICA INJURY UPDATE". March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  21. ^ "AMBITIOUS SERBIA UNVEIL POWERFUL 12-MAN SQUAD". 2 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "LITHUANIA END SERBIAN STREAK, RETURN TO FINAL". Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  23. ^ "FRANCE REWARD HOME SUPPORT WITH BRONZE". 20 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  24. ^ "Player profile: Nemanja Bjelica". FIBA Europe. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  26. ^ "Crkveno venčanje Mirjane i Nemanje Bjelice". (in Serbian). 22 June 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 

External links[edit]