Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic Must Improve Post-Game to Take Next Step

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 31, 2013

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 05:  Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic is gaurded by Tyson Chandler #6 of the New York Knicks during the game at Amway Center on January 5, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic are in the midst of a tumultuous season thus far. With a record of just 14-31, and a seven game losing streak, their chances of making the playoffs are extremely slim. However, new acquisition Nikola Vucevic has been a bright spot for the team.

The 7'0" center is averaging 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds for the team, while shooting 52.6 percent from the field. His ability to score around the rim or from mid-range are both useful, as these skills make Vucevic a true scoring threat inside and out.

Thus far, he is shooting 46.8 percent on spot-up jumpers (29-of-62 field goals) and even better when shooting or finishing on pick-and-rolls (59.8 percent). He's also one of the NBA's top offensive rebounders, pulling down 3.4 offensive boards per game. 

As spectacular as he has been this season, Vucevic still lacks a true post-up game. He has the ability to score around the rim, be it on hook shots or stand-still floaters, yet he is not converting low-post opportunities as well as he needs to.

Of 87 field goals attempted in the post, Vucevic has converted just 35 shots, which translates into a poor 40.2 percent. One would believe standing seven feet tall would give him an advantage over smaller players, yet even then he seems to have trouble. His post-ups result in a turnover 17.1 percent of the time. Combining the missed shots and the turnovers, Vucevic scores on just 35.1 percent of these low-post possessions.

It is duly noted that this is Vucevic's second year in the league, and he has been thrust into the role of starting center. However, his numbers have improved as the season has progressed, as he posted 14.4 points and 12.9 rebounds per game for the month of January.

What this increase in productivity points to is his ability to improve quickly. Just three months into the season and he is already putting up averages of multi-year veterans. He certainly has the potential to become a top-10 center in the game, but adding a post game is essential.

Vucevic's scoring and rebounding are already reminiscent of Cleveland's Anderson Varejao, who is eight years older. His 29 rebounds against the Heat was a coming-out party of sorts, a culmination of the noise Vucevic had been making over the previous weeks. If he wishes to take that extra step into the upper echelon of frontcourt players, developing a low-post presence should be first on his to-do list.

All statistics sourced from nba.com/stats and Synergy Sports Technology.