USC’s former center/power forward Nikola Vucevic had a great performance at the 2011 NBA Draft Combine that made a lasting impression to NBA scouts and may have boost his draft stock to rise.
He entered the Windy City as an unknown, but he measured out very well there and in a draft that’s short on both good players and big players, he could be a good big player. That possibility made him the hottest prospect to come out of that combine and propelled him into the first round in several mock NBA drafts. He might go mid-first round, even.
Vucevic’s measurements from the draft combine:
He measured out a shade shorter than 7-feet at 6-11 3/4 in shoes — the tallest there; was the second heaviest present at 260 pounds but had just 6% body fat; had the second longest standing reach at 9-4 1/2 (a half-inch bigger than former No.1 overall pick Greg Oden); and, to boot, had the second-best wingspan at 7-4 1/2.
Filipovich said many teams picking in the 10-to-25 range in the first round approached them about Vucevic after his performance in Chicago.
“They were surprised that Nikola did so well. He blew them away.”
Now Vucevic is off to do individual workouts with various NBA teams. He left L.A. on Wednesday for Houston, where he is working out Thursday with the Rockets, who have the 14th and 23rd picks in the first round.
From Houston, Vucevic will head to San Antonio, where he’ll work out Friday with the Spurs, who have the 29th pick in the first round.
The Spurs had scouts present at several of USC’s home games this season and are reportedly very interetsed in the 20-year-old Vucevic, as are Philadelphia, Charlotte, New York and New Jersey.
Some might be surprised by his draft stock’s metoric rise, but that’s kind of his style. He went from barely playing as a freshman, when he averaged 2.6 points, to becoming the Pacific 10 Conference’s Most Improved Player as a sophomore, when he averaged 10.7 points and 9.4 rebounds, to becoming a Pac-10 All-First-Team player last season.
Still, Vucevic said there’s much to improve on.
“I told everybody I need to expand my three-point shot to the NBA range so I can be consistent there,” he said, “and also defensively being able to move quicker.”
He averaged 17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 blocks in 34.9 minutes per game while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 75.5 percent from the foul line for the Trojans last season.
The Spurs are known for their knack of picking foreign players in the draft. They clearly needs some inside help and Vucevic seems to be a good fit them.
If he is available at the 29th spot, then the Spurs might just draft the former Trojan in the first round.
What do you think? Should the Spurs pick Vucevic in the first round? Share your thoughts.