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Nikola Vučević

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Nikola Vučević
Nikola Vucevic Dec 2013 (cropped).jpg
Vučević with the Orlando Magic in 2013
No. 9 – Chicago Bulls
PositionCenter
LeagueNBA
Personal information
Born (1990-10-24) 24 October 1990 (age 30)
Morges, Switzerland
NationalityMontenegrin
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight260 lb (118 kg)
Career information
High schoolStoneridge Preparatory
(Simi Valley, California)
CollegeUSC (2008–2011)
NBA draft2011 / Round: 1 / Pick: 16th overall
Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers
Playing career2011–present
Career history
2011Budućnost
2011–2012Philadelphia 76ers
20122021Orlando Magic
2021–presentChicago Bulls
Career highlights and awards
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Nikola Vučević (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Вучевић, pronounced [nǐkɔla ʋûːtʃɛʋitɕ]; born 24 October 1990) is a Montenegrin professional basketball player for the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the University of Southern California before being drafted 16th overall in the 2011 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Vučević, who spent his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers, was traded to Orlando Magic before the start of the 2012–13 season as a part of the four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. He played nine seasons for the Magic and was named a two-time NBA All-Star during his tenure with the team. In the middle of the 2020–21 season, the Magic traded Vučević to the Chicago Bulls.

Early life

Vučević was born in Morges, Switzerland during the time his professional basketball player father, Borislav, played for a club based in nearby Lausanne. The youngster was primarily raised in Belgium where the family moved in 1994 when his father got a professional contract there. Borislav Vučević played professionally for 24 years, a journeyman career that included stops in Yugoslavia, Switzerland, and Belgium, and was a member of the KK Bosna team that won the European Champions Cup in 1979 in addition to several appearances for the Yugoslavia national team, primarily at the 1983 Mediterranean Games in Casablanca, Morocco and EuroBasket 1985 in West Germany. Vučević's mother, Ljiljana Kubura, an ethnic Serb was a 6-foot-2 forward for the Sarajevo club Željezničar, as well as for the Yugoslavia women's national team.[1][2]

His family moved to Montenegro when he was a teenager.[3] In 2006, Vučević was a survivor in the Bioče derailment, a train crash that killed at least 45 people and wounded 184 others.[4]

In 2007, seventeen-year-old Vučević was named Montenegro's Best Young Player.[1]

High school

Vučević moved to Simi Valley, California in the United States in October 2007 to play his senior year of high school at Stoneridge Prep.[5] He knew little English, but did speak French, which many of his teammates also spoke. Under coach Babacar Sy, a friend of his father's, he was team captain and led the team in scoring and rebounding with 18 points and 12 rebounds.[6]

College career

Vučević played three seasons with the Trojans of the University of Southern California.[7]

Freshman

Vučević missed the first eight games of the season while waiting to have his amateur status confirmed by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He averaged 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 23 games in three starts. Vučević played in his first game with USC on 15 December 2008, against Pepperdine, and had two points, two blocks, and two rebounds in six minutes. He made his first start of the season on 24 January 2009, at Washington State in the Trojans' 46–44 win with a season-high eight points and five rebounds. He also scored eight points on 9 February 2009 at UCLA, and in his second start of the season on 19 February against Washington State. Vučević had a season-best seven rebounds in that game and matched that total on 5 March 2009, vs. Oregon. Vučević scored six points and had four rebounds in the NCAA second-round loss to Michigan State on 22 March. In all, he made 57.8 percent of his shots from the field (26-for-45).

Sophomore

Vučević with the USC Trojans in February 2011

Vučević began to excel in his sophomore season. He scored 18 points and had eight rebounds in the first game of the season against UC Riverside on 17 November 2009, both totals better than any of his freshman games. Vučević had 18 points and 14 rebounds at Texas on 3 December 2009. He scored a career-high 19 points and had 11 rebounds vs. Loyola Marymount on 21 November 2009, for his first career double-double. He matched his career high with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting at UCLA on 16 January 2010, scoring 17 points in the second half. By the end of the year, he had led USC in scoring five times and in rebounding 20 times, including the last nine games.

Overall, he was the second-best scorer and leading rebounder on the Trojans, with 10.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Vučević led the Pac-10 with 283 rebounds and offensive rebounds per game (6.3) and his 39 blocks were the fourth most in the conference. Vučević's .504 shooting percentage (126-for-250) led USC and was seventh best in the Pac-10. Vučević was named the 2009–10 Pac-10 Most Improved Player, and earned all-Pac-10 second team and Pac-10 honorable-mention all-defensive team honors.[8] He had the second-most blocks ever in a season by a Trojan sophomore and the third-most rebounds. Vučević started all 30 games for USC and posted 10 double-doubles.

Junior

As a junior, Vucevic was picked to the Fourth Team All-America by Fox Sports[9] and was named to the All-Pac-10 first team. In March 2011, Vučević announced that he would give up his senior year to enter the NBA draft. The website NBAdraft.net projected him as the 23rd pick in the draft.[10]

During his stint with the Trojans, Vučević averaged 11.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.[11]

Professional career

Philadelphia 76ers (2011–2012)

On 23 June 2011, Vučević was drafted with the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.[12] During the 2011 NBA lockout, Vučević played for Montenegrin team Budućnost Podgorica. Following the conclusion of the lockout, he returned to the United States and signed his rookie scale contract with the 76ers on 9 December 2011.[13] On 22 February 2012, Vučević scored a season-high 18 points in a loss to the Houston Rockets.[14]

Orlando Magic (2012–2021)

2012–13 season

Vučević in December 2012

On 10 August 2012, Vučević was traded to the Orlando Magic as a part of the blockbuster four-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.[15] On 31 December 2012, in an overtime loss to the Miami Heat, Vučević set a franchise record with 29 rebounds.[16] On 10 April 2013, he recorded his second straight 20/20 game with a career-high 30 points and 20 rebounds in a 113–103 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.[17]

2013–14 season

On 6 November 2013, Vučević recorded a career-high tying 30 points and 21 rebounds in a 98–90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.[18] Vučević's strong play over the second half of the 2013–14 season was noticeable on 28 March 2014 when he dominated the Charlotte Bobcats. He overcame a slow start shooting the ball to finish the game with 24 points and 23 rebounds in an overtime victory. Vučević made nine of his last 11 shots to lead a Magic rally in the second half, while also grabbing 16 first-half rebounds and 10 offensive boards in the game, marking the sixth 20-point, 20-rebound game of his career.[19] On 31 March, Vučević earned his first Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor, after he led the Magic to a 2-1 week. He logged a double-double average with 22.7 points (sixth in the conference) and a league-leading 14.3 rebounds. He posted a point-rebound double-double in all three contests.[20] Vučević became the first Magic player to win the Eastern Player of the Week honors since Dwight Howard in 2012.[21][22]

2014–15 season

On 23 October 2014, Vučević signed a four-year, $53 million contract extension with the Magic.[23][24] On 3 April 2015, he scored a career-high 37 points in a 97–84 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.[25]

2015–16 season

On 11 November 2015, Vučević didn't start for the Magic against the Los Angeles Lakers, returning to action after a three-game absence with a right knee contusion. Vučević, who had started all 223 games for the Magic over his four-season tenure, came off the bench for the first time and scored 18 points, including a fallaway 18-footer at the buzzer to lift the Magic over the Lakers 101–99.[26] Vučević averaged 18.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his first 12 games of December (1–23 December).[27] Shaquille O'Neal is the only other Magic player to reach those numbers in one month in franchise history.[28] On 7 February 2016, he scored 22 points and hit an 18-footer at the buzzer to lead the Magic over the Atlanta Hawks 96–94, winning for only the third time in 18 games in 2016.[29][30] On 23 February, he scored a season-high 35 points in a 124–115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.[31] On 31 March, he returned to action after missing the previous 13 games with a right groin strain.[32] He subsequently came off the bench for just the second in his Magic tenure, as he scored 24 points in a 114–94 win over the Indiana Pacers.[33] He came off the bench for a further three games before returning to the starting line-up on 8 April against the Miami Heat, where he scored a game-high 29 points in a 112–109 win.[34]

2016–17 season

Vučević started in all 16 games for the Magic to start the 2016–17 season, coming off the bench for just the sixth time in his Magic tenure on 27 November 2016 against the Milwaukee Bucks.[35] Vučević continued to come off the bench throughout December, while also missing three games between 10 and 14 December with a back injury.[36] On 20 December, he had a season-high 26 points and 12 rebounds off the bench in a 136–130 double overtime win over the Miami Heat.[37] He regained his starting spot in mid-January, and as a result, he hit 13 of 18 shots, scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 115–109 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on 13 January.[38] On 7 February 2017, he had 14 points and a season-high 19 rebounds in a 128–104 loss to the Houston Rockets.[39] On 11 March 2017, in a 116–104 loss to Cleveland, Vučević had a team-high 20 points and 16 rebounds after missing the previous four games with a sore right Achilles.[40] On 10 April 2017, he grabbed 10 rebounds against Chicago to move ahead of Shaquille O'Neal into second place in franchise history, trailing only Dwight Howard.[41]

2017–18 season

On 20 October 2017, Vučević scored a career-high 41 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 126–121 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.[42] On 9 December 2017, he recorded his first career triple-double with game highs of 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 117–110 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.[43] He became the first Magic center to record a triple-double with assists—Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard each accomplished it with blocks.[44] On 23 December, he suffered a fractured left hand against the Washington Wizards and was subsequently ruled out for six to eight weeks.[45] He returned to action on 22 February 2018, against the New York Knicks after missing 23 games, recording 19 points and six rebounds in a 120–113 loss.[46] On 14 March, he recorded 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a 126–117 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.[47]

2018–19 season

On 20 October 2018, Vučević recorded his second career triple-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a 116–115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.[48] On 17 November, he had a season-high 36 points and 13 rebounds in a 130–117 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.[49] Eight days later, he had 31 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in a 108–104 win also against the Lakers.[50] Prior to the second match-up against the Lakers, Lakers coach Luke Walton described Vučević as a "nightmare to matchup [sic] with" because of the versatility of his offensive game.[50] Following the 108–104 win, Lakers forward LeBron James noted that "He's (Vučević) got our number this year. All you can say."[50] On 19 November, Vučević was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, after leading the Magic to a 3-1 record. It was the first time a Magic player has won the award since 2014, when Vučević himself captured the award for the first time in his NBA career. He averaged 27.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 58.1 percent from the floor and 47 percent from 3-point range. During his stretch of strong play, Vučević became the first Magic player to post at least 28 points and 10 rebounds in three consecutive games since Dwight Howard. He also became the first Magic player to score 30 points in back-to-back games since Victor Oladipo in March 2015.[51][52][53] On 6 January 2019, Vučević had 16 points and 24 rebounds in a 106–96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.[54] On 31 January, he received his first All-Star selection in his eight-year career, earning Eastern Conference reserve honors for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.[55] He became the Magic's first All-Star since Howard in 2012.[56] On 17 March, he scored 17 of his 27 points in the first eight minutes of the game and added 20 rebounds in a 101–91 win over the Atlanta Hawks.[57] Vučević helped the Magic go 22–9 over the final 31 games of the season to clinch their first playoff berth since 2012.[58] In game one of the Magic's first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Vučević scored 11 points in a 104–101 upset victory.[58] They went on to lose to the Raptors in five games.[59]

2019–20 season

Vučević entered the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.[60] On 6 July 2019, he signed a four-year, $100 million contract to remain with the Magic.[61][62] On 17 November, Vučević posted 30 points on 11 of 14 shooting, including 3-for-4 from three along with 17 rebounds and six assists in a 125–121 victory against the Washington Wizards, putting up season-highs for points and rebounds while also logging his seventh consecutive double-double and his tenth overall on the season. In his efforts, Vučević set a franchise record for most 30-point, 15-rebound and five-assist games with four, surpassing Shaquille O’Neal with three.[63][64] The following day, Vučević earned his third Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor, after logging a double-double average with 21.7 points, 14.0 rebounds to go along 4.0 assists and 1.33 blocks per game while shooting 54.2 percent overall and 66.7 percent from 3-point range. He led the Magic in scoring and rebounding and sparked its 3-0 record during the week with victories over the Philadelphia 76ers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Wizards.[63][65]

2020–21 season

Though largely credited to a balanced attack, Vučević has played a key role in the hot start by the Orlando Magic.[66]

On 5 February 2021, Vučević scored a career-high 43 points, grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds and dished out 4 assists in a 123–119 win over the Chicago Bulls. He succeeded in two free throw shots with 2.6 seconds left to play, ending the Magic's fourth losing streak.[67][68][69] In his efforts, Vučević joined Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard as the third player in franchise history to log at least 43 points and 19 rebounds in a game.[70][71] On 19 February, Vučević logged his third career triple-double with 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a 124–120 win over the Golden State Warriors, becoming the second center (along with Nikola Jokić) to score a 30-point triple-double with zero turnovers since 1985. He also set a franchise record for the most triple-doubles for the center position.[72][73] On 23 February, Vučević was named an Eastern Conference reserve for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.[74][75]

At the conclusion of Vučević's time with the Magic, he ranks at or near the top of a number of key categories in the Magic franchise history, including first in all-time field goals made (4,490), second in rebounds (6,381), third in blocks (550), third in points scored (10,423), and fourth in games played (591). He also led the franchise to end its six-year playoff drought and reach the postseason two straight years.[76]

Chicago Bulls (2021–present)

On 25 March 2021, the Orlando Magic traded Vučević along with Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter and two future first-round picks.[77] Vučević played and started in all 44 games and was averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists, while shooting 40.6% from three-point range and 82.7% from the free throw line with the Magic for the 2020–21 season. He is the fourth leading rebounder in the league at the time.[78][79] On 27 March, Vučević debuted for the Bulls in a 120–104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, scoring a game-high 21 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out four assists in 32 minutes of action.[80][81][82] On 31 March, Vučević logged his first double-double as a Bull with 24 points and 10 rebounds in a 121–116 loss to the Phoenix Suns.[83][84] On 4 April, Vučević posted his thirty-second double-double of the season and second as a Bull with 22 points and a game-high 13 rebounds along with two assists, two steals and two blocks in a 115–107 win over the Brooklyn Nets, ending the Bulls' longest losing streak of the season at six games.[85][86][87] Two days later, Vučević tallied 32 points, 17 rebounds, and five assists in a 113–97 victory against the Indiana Pacers, becoming the third player in franchise history to log at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a game, joining Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.[88][89] On 26 April, Vučević logged his third straight double-double and the fortieth of his career with 24 points and 11 rebounds in a 110–102 win over the Miami Heat. It was also his tenth double-double in his 18 games as a Bull.[90][91][92] After missing two games due to a hip injury, Vučević returned to action on 6 May, recording his sixth consecutive double-double with 29 points and 14 rebounds, in addition to three assists, two steals and a block in a 120–99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.[93][94]

National team career

Vučević represented the Montenegro Under-20 team at the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship. He then represented the senior Montenegro national basketball team at FIBA EuroBasket 2011, FIBA EuroBasket 2013 and FIBA EuroBasket 2017. He averaged 5.0 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game in 2011 while backing up Nikola Peković.[95] With Peković out of the 2013 tournament, Vučević started for the team and put up 7.0 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game.[96]

Personal life

In 2016, Vučević married longtime girlfriend and fellow Montenegrin Nikoleta Pavlović,[97][98] sister of former NBA player Aleksandar "Sasha" Pavlović.[99] The couple have two sons, Filip (born 17 December 2018)[100][101] and Matija (born 1 October 2020).[102][103]

Vučević is an ethnic Serb and a Serbian Orthodox Christian.[104] He speaks French, Serbian and English.[6][78][98] He also holds dual citizenship with Montenegro and Belgium.[78][98]

Vučević is a fan of KK Crvena zvezda, FK Crvena zvezda and Juventus Torino.[105]

Career statistics

Legend
  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  Bold  Career high

NBA

Regular season

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2011–12 Philadelphia 51 15 15.9 .450 .375 .529 4.8 .6 .4 .7 5.5
2012–13 Orlando 77 77 33.2 .519 .000 .683 11.9 1.9 .8 1.0 13.1
2013–14 Orlando 57 57 31.8 .507 .766 11.0 1.8 1.1 .8 14.2
2014–15 Orlando 74 74 34.2 .523 .333 .752 10.9 2.0 .7 .7 19.3
2015–16 Orlando 65 60 31.3 .510 .222 .753 8.9 2.8 .8 1.1 18.2
2016–17 Orlando 75 55 28.8 .468 .307 .669 10.4 2.8 1.0 1.0 14.6
2017–18 Orlando 57 57 29.5 .475 .315 .819 9.2 3.4 1.0 1.1 16.5
2018–19 Orlando 80 80 31.4 .518 .364 .789 12.0 3.8 1.0 1.1 20.8
2019–20 Orlando 62 62 32.2 .477 .339 .784 10.9 3.6 .9 .8 19.6
2020–21 Orlando 44 44 34.1 .480 .406 .827 11.8 3.8 1.0 .6 24.5
Career 642 581 30.5 .497 .353 .753 10.3 2.6 .9 .9 16.7
All-Star 2 0 12.5 .500 .200 6.0 1.5 1.0 .0 4.5

Playoffs

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2012 Philadelphia 1 0 3.0 .000 .500 1.0 .0 .0 .0 1.0
2019 Orlando 5 5 29.4 .362 .231 .786 8.0 3.0 .4 1.0 11.2
2020 Orlando 5 5 37.0 .505 .409 .909 11.0 4.0 .8 .6 28.0
Career 11 10 30.5 .453 .368 .815 8.7 3.2 .5 .7 17.9

College

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2008–09 USC 23 3 11.0 .578 .000 .875 2.7 .3 .4 .4 2.6
2009–10 USC 30 30 32.3 .504 .222 .718 9.4 1.2 .6 1.3 10.7
2010–11 USC 34 34 34.9 .505 .349 .755 10.3 1.6 .5 1.4 17.1
Career 87 67 27.7 .509 .303 .746 8.0 1.1 .5 1.1 11.1

See also

References

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