Watching the Orlando Magic in the first half of Wednesday night’s game, Philadelphia 76ers fans had to be asking the same question: Just why did we trade this Nik Vucevic guy in the first place and still have Spencer Hawes?
Letting the 7-foot Vucevic go in the four-team, 12 player deal for Andrew Bynum might go down as one of the worst trades in Philadelphia sports history. Vucevic again showed why in Orlando’s 105-94 win over the visiting Sixers, as he finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds on 10-for-13 shooting from the floor.
Sixers fans don’t need to be reminded that Bynum never played a minute for the team before ending up with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, but Vucevic’s outstanding play reminds them that he probably would have given them a lot more than even Bynum could have. Not only did Vucevic have an outstanding game on Wednesday night, he’s coming off a season where he started in 77 games with Orlando, averaging 13.1 points per game and 11 rebounds a game, and was second in the league in rebound average per game. His shot selection was solid, as shown by a .519 percentage from the floor last season.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are stuck with the oft-injured Hawes to play center, and he has proven to be somewhere between Bynum and Vucevic on the durability scale, and definitely not as consistent as Vucevic is in filling up the stat sheet. Hawes missed his second straight game with “left knee issues” according to the team. Had the Sixers been able to substitute Hawes in the Bynum deal instead of Vucevic, they’d be a lot better off today.
As it is, they have to wait for another 7-footer in first-round pick Nerlens Noel to come on the scene in about a year and wonder what might have been had Vucevic been their stopgap solution to a gaping hole in the middle.