The Orlando Magic acquired Nikola Vučević from the Philadelphia 76ers in the Dwight Howard trade with every expectation that the second-year center would play a major role in their rebuild. Through 10 games of his sophomore season, he's validated those expectations with strong play, particularly on the boards. And on NBA Surprises day at SB Nation, Orlando Pinstriped Post singles Vučević out as the Magic's most pleasant surprise.
Among second-year players averaging at least 25 minutes per game, only Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried averages more rebounds per game than Vučević. And when it comes to double-doubles, Vučević ranks behind only Faried and Greg Monroe among players 22 or younger, with five on the season. For perspective, that's more than Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson (four) and Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (three), two players far more celebrated than the USC product.
Vučević still has room for improvement, particularly at the offensive end, where his mid-range jumper has proven suspect. His perimeter-oriented game also costs him trips to the foul line; he's taken just 17 free throws in 307 minutes on the season.
But Vučević's facility on the glass and ability to run the floor in transition are two assets which will make him a valued part of the Magic going forward. I don't think anyone, apart from Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan, perhaps, could have or should have foreseen such steady play from Vučević so soon.