This NBA offseason has been an interesting one thus far with several players changing addresses. Teams added moving parts with the lure of grand paychecks. Free agency has created a frenzy, while the trade market has been quiet thus far. Nikola Vucevic is one of the names to keep an eye on once teams truly start exploring trade ideas.
Normally, NBA trades happen on the night of the draft. The Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder completed the most notable trade (courtesy of ESPN) during the draft. A swap of Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis for Serge Ibaka took place. In the process, the Magic sacrificed their frontcourt depth by acquiring an all-star level power forward. The Magic’s thinking is that Serge Ibaka is an upgrade on whatever Ilyasova and Sabonis can do as a collective.
Serge Ibaka will no doubt help the Orlando Magic, but he does much of the same things as Nikola Vucevic does. And that will eventually create some sort of conflict.
Are the Orlando Magic rebuilding once again?
The trade which brought in Serge Ibaka was not the only move made by the Magic. Orlando has also signed both Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green. Both of them are power forwards. Biyombo is a strong rim-protector, while Green is more of a stretch-four.
According to Bleacher Report, all of the Magic’s frontcourt moves, plus Aaron Gordon, could eventually lead to Nikola Vucevic being the odd man out. The Orlando Magic have several big men, yet not enough minutes to go around for them.
Where is the playing time going to come from for a player such as Aaron Gordon?
In the eyes of Orlando Magic head coach (courtesy of ESPN) Frank Vogel, Gordon would be the team’s starting power forward if Serge Ibaka was not on the roster. Now Vogel must make some adjustments.
“If Serge Ibaka weren’t here, Aaron Gordon would be my power forward. But Serge is here. Aaron is going to be playing [small forward]. We are going to put the ball in his hands a lot. We’re going to use him like Paul George.”
Of the incumbent frontcourt players, Gordon’s role has been defined, leaving Nikola Vucevic without a guaranteed place. But before the Magic does anything rash, it was confirmed that no trade of Nikola Vucevic is imminent. The Orlando Magic are content on trying to find a way for Vucevic to fit.
Nikola Vucevic is a highly skilled player, who is a double-double machine and an improved passer. Vucevic has a versatile offensive game, with the ability to play inside and out. Where he needs help at is on the defensive end.
Defense is not Vucevic’s strong suit. Playing for Coach Frank Vogel, Nikola Vucevic will have to be defensive-oriented. If not, he will sit in favor of Bismack Biyombo.
Having Biyombo on board for four seasons make Nikola Vucevic expendable.
Bismack Biyombo is a true shot-blocker. He has the form of standing straight up and contesting shots, which is something that cannot be taught. Defensively, Nikola Vucevic must get better or he will play elsewhere.
If the Orlando Magic were to place Vucevic on the trade block, there will be several teams who are interested.
Another team to watch out for is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are still searching for one more difference maker. Nikola Vucevic could be that final piece to their championship puzzle.
Although the Orlando Magic are not compelled to trade Nikola Vucevic now, that could change at some point in the season.
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