Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Nikola Vucevic

It seems that most Pistons fans want to talk about big men, since virtually every time I’ve done a Draft Dreams on a guard, I’ve received comments an e-mails from people who are utterly terrified by the possibility the Pistons will once again use a draft pick on a little man, so I’ll try and stick to some frontcourt players this week.


Measurables: 6-foot-10, 260 pounds, junior F/C from USC

Key stats: 17.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 50 percent and 35 percent from three

Projected: Early second round

How would he help the Pistons?

USC had a big man a couple years ago who slipped to the bottom of the first round and in hindsight, I think a lot of teams would love the chance to draft Taj Gibson again. Vucevic might be one of the more undervalued bigs in this year’s draft. He’s a double-double guy as a junior, an All-Pac 10 First Team selection and he grabs 25 percent of available defensive rebounds while he’s on the floor. In fact, his defensive rebounding rate has improved a lot in three years at USC, from 18 percent as a freshman to 23 percent last year to 25 percent this year.

Vucevic has added elements to his game as a Trojan as well. After attempting only three 3-pointers as a freshman, he’s taken 89 this season and made 35 percent of those. He’s not in love with taking the three, but he can certainly hit it and he still shoots over 50 percent overall. He’s also gained weight, currently listed at 260 pounds after starting his college career in the 230ish to 240 range. His size can’t be overlooked in a draft that features several big men who are on the skinny side. His father also played professionally, so Vucevic should have a good understanding of the work required to become a good player as a pro.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

Vucevic has modest athleticism, but pairing he and Greg Monroe together would mean the Pistons wouldn’t have a shot-blocking presence as Monroe we’ve already seen isn’t a rim protector and Vucevic doesn’t project as one in the NBA. He averages 1.4 a game at USC, but I don’t see that immediately translating over to the pro game for him. He has good hands and decent footwork, so he should develop into a solid defender at some point. There’s also a chance Vucevic stays in school for his senior year, where USC would have a good team returning (thanks to one of this state’s finest and most exciting high school players ever, Saginaw Arthur Hill’s  Maurice Jones). If he’s in the draft, though, and around when the Pistons select in the second round, he’s exactly the type of player who could contribute next seaon for them on the frontline.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

As for the rest of his scoring game, Vucevic does most of his damage operating in the low to mid-post, showing a solid finesse game centered around a right-handed hook shot with range to 10 feet. He has pretty good touch and decent footwork, but he does a great job staying active and calling for the ball while moving around the floor, being extremely aggressive in getting open and wanting the ball in his hands. He tends to do his best in the post when matched against undersized, overmatched opponents, however, showing trouble when matched against more NBA-caliber frontcourt players.

From ESPN:


* Big man with a soft touch around the basket
* Nice face up game with range out to three point line
* Long arms allow him to play bigger than he is
* Solid rebounder


* Not a great athlete
* Lacks lateral quickness
* Not a great ball handler