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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.
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.
His family moved to Montenegro when he was a teenager. In 2006, Vučević was a survivor in the Bioče derailment, a train crash that killed at least 45 people and wounded 184 others.
In 2007, seventeen-year-old Vučević was named Montenegro's Best Young Player.
Vučević moved to Simi Valley, California in the United States in October 2007 to play his senior year of high school at Stoneridge Prep. 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.
College career Vučević played three seasons with the Trojans of the University of Southern California.
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).
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. 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.
As a junior, Vucevic was picked to the Fourth Team All-America by Fox Sports 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.
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. 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. On 22 February 2012, Vučević scored a season-high 18 points in a loss to the Houston Rockets.
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. On 31 December 2012, in an overtime loss to the Miami Heat, Vučević set a franchise record with 29 rebounds. 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.
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.
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.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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
Nikola Vucevic 2020-2021 Stats:
24 Pts 11.7 Rebs 3.8 ASTS 48% FG 40% 3PT 84% FT PER 24 WS 5.2
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