One of the greatest steals in the trade that sent Dwight Howard away from the Orlando Magic was Nikola Vucevic, a spry center who had tremendous upside but never received the playing time in his then-rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
But with the Magic, Vucevic has displayed the tools that many NBA scouts were drooling over in the 2009 NBA Draft. He has a sweet post-up game, a go to jump hook and a nice mid-range outside game. But Vucevic also displayed a knack for rebounding and playing defense, which made Magic fans say “Dwight who?”
Now entering his third year in a Magic uniform, Vucevic is primed and ready to take the next step from a good big man into one of the most dominating big men in the Eastern Conference. He was well on his way to that title last season, but a late-season injury forced him to miss the remainder of the year and fans saw just how important Vucevic has become in their offensive game plan.
Vucevic will need to stay healthy next season, as the Magic will be relying on their young talent to carry them from the basement to the playoffs. Vucevic will have more room to operate in the paint this season, Tobias Harris will open up the lane and Aaron Gordon will relieve Vucevic of some defensive responsibilities.
It is no doubt that Vucevic could become a dominant center in the NBA next season, and if he does take the next step, the Magic’s rebuilding phase will be way ahead of schedule.