Magic's Nik Vučević returning to form

Nik Vučević - John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

The third-year center is working his way back from a sprained ankle and a concussion.

With his 20-point, 16-rebound effort Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic center Nik Vučević extended to eight games his streak of double-doubles, the longest active stretch in the NBA. In that span, the seven-footer is averaging 17.8 points and 13.1 boards on 54.3 percent shooting from the floor. Contrast that level of productivity with his output from his first 40 appearances--13.6 points, 10.7 boards, 50 percent shooting--and it's clear that something has clicked for the third-year big man. What's changed?

"It's me getting back, shape-wise," Vučević said. "Just feeling the game to where I was early in the season. After the concussion and the sprained ankle, I kinda got out of rhythm. So it's just me getting back to 100 percent and just feeling good out there for longer periods."

Vučević sprained his ankle in a December game against the Washington Wizards after he landed on a photographer who was seated along the baseline, an injury he aggravated a short while later. In January, he received a concussion after hitting his head on the floor in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Health and conditioning explain only a part of Vučević's recent resurgence, however. To hear him tell it, a change in his mental approach has also helped him return to form.

"It's just me being aggressive," Vučević said. "Just trying to help my team as much as I can. Obviously, rebounding is something I can do every night by just being the biggest guy on this team. And then with points, the way our offense runs I get a lot of good looks from my teammates. I just try to be aggressive and finish around the rim and making jump shots."

During Vučević's eight-game hot streak, the Montenegrin has converted 52.8 percent of his mid-range shots, according to, making him a threat to score even when pulled away from the basket area, where he's remained effective. In his first 40 games, data indicate Vučević shot a respectable, but not elite, 42.9 percent on such shots.

So long as Vučević continues to produce consistently and remains in good health, Orlando will find itself in a position to win on most nights. One story to watch over the Magic's final 16 games--in a season that looks inconsequential on paper, given that the playoff chase has long since ended--is how Orlando uses the 23-year-old and what strides he makes.

SB Nation Featured Video
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Orlando Pinstriped Post

You must be a member of Orlando Pinstriped Post to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Orlando Pinstriped Post. You should read them.

Join Orlando Pinstriped Post

You must be a member of Orlando Pinstriped Post to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Orlando Pinstriped Post. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.