A trio of ESPN experts got together Wednesday to rank the NBA's 25 best players under age 25, and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vučević made the cut. At 22nd overall, the Montenegrin is the only Magic player to appear on the list, which Amin Elhassan, Kevin Pelton, and David Thorpe curated.
Elhassan refers to Vučević as a "monster rebounding machine" and praises his post game as "effective." Meanwhile, Thorpe expresses concern about Vučević's balance on his jumper:
Vučević has a great looking shot off ball screens when he pops, but too often he does not complete his shot, as it relates to footwork. Shooters need to emphasize staying balanced through the entire shot, and he often begins to back away just as he is releasing it. Trying to gain even one more step toward the rim on the catch would help, too.
For his part, Pelton notes that Vučević is most similar at his age to Drew Gooden, J.J. Hickson, and Andrew Bogut. To avoid becoming a journeyman like Gooden and Hickson, Pelton says, Vučević will need to develop another skill.
In 18 appearances, Vučević is averaging 14.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.2 combined steals and blocks per game.
The bigs ahead of Vučević on ESPN's list are Anthony Davis (first), Andre Drummond (third), Blake Griffin (sixth), DeMarcus Cousins (ninth), Derrick Favors (10th), Serge Ibaka (12th), and Greg Monroe (13th).
How fair an assessment of Vučević is the one that ESPN's three-person panel offers? Would you have rated him higher or lower? Can the Magic build around the 23-year-old? Sound off in the comments.