The Orlando Magic get a much deserved rest after abolishing their five previous opponents each by double digits. The Magic defeated their long time nemesis in Charlotte and the New Orleans Pelicans by 30 points a piece!
The season has been a revelation for a long suffering sqaud of athletes who have put in the time and effort year and year, hoping for a vastly different result, all while succumbing to the inevitable. The Magic would seemingly never return to the playoffs after what has grown into a seven year absence.
This rings truer for Nikola Vucevic than any other member of the Magic. Traded to Orlando in 2012 following his one year stop in Philadelphia, Vucevic is now well into his seventh season in the Magic City.
Vucevic tasted playoff success in his rookie season, advancing to the second round only to fall short to the Boston Celtics in seven games. Former general manager Sam Hinkie would ultimately disperse all of his core in exchange for long term assets, and Vucevic began culminating his own version of a well balanced group of young veterans in Orlando, only to see it fall apart once more.
Harris. Oladipo. Gordon. Vucevic. Payton.— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) February 15, 2019
Where would this team finish in the East in 2019? pic.twitter.com/Uv4Sf47E4j
Fast forward to Vucevic’s eighth season in the NBA and it’s his best one to date. Posting career-highs in points (20.5), rebounds (12.1), and assists (3.8), as well as three-point percentage (38%), Vucevic has become the all around player and leader the Magic have yearned for since Dwight Howard boarded the plane to Los Angeles in 2012.
Vucevic has been the engine driving the Magic all season, and his +10.2 per 100 possessions lead the Magic by a substantial margin (Augustin +7.2, Gordon +6.4). Numbers aside, Vucevic has always been dependable when the Magic needed him most. His unique ability to draw defenders and kick to the perimeter or use his nimble feet to find the space requisite to draw contact and get to the line have been the difference for the Magic in clutch situations this season.
All-Star Nikola Vucevic helps coach youth at the Basketball Without Borders camp during NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte. pic.twitter.com/vG6X8jJ8s3— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) February 15, 2019
Nikola Vucevic has been a staple in the Orlando community, taking great effort to make a difference. The Magic carry the advantage of a low-post scoring threat who can sell the values of the Magic organization both on and off the court.
``It’s huge and it’s hard to put into words how this feels for me to be selected to play there and to go and represent the Orlando Magic,’’ Vucevic told OrlandoMagic.com. ``It means so much to me, especially with what we’ve been through since I’ve been here. To finally get that recognition with all of the work that I’ve put in, it really, really means a lot to me.”
All-Star Weekend comes as a refreshing reward for a team that has won few and far of them in Vucevic’s young career. But between the slam dunk contest, three-point contests, and the skills’ challenges (NBA All-Star odds at TopBet), and the game itself, Vucevic is just taking a moment to enjoy the moment.
``I’ve been a teammate of Vooch’s for three years and I’ve been telling everybody that he should have been an all-star three years ago,’’ Magic point guard D.J. Augustin said.
Thank you Mayor! Honored to represent the city of Orlando this weekend! https://t.co/UtxzFGv6ve— Nikola Vucevic (@NikolaVucevic) February 16, 2019
The Orlando Magic are entering the final stretch of their season riding a killer streak and trailing the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets by 1⁄2 and one game respectively. Should this wave continue to roll, it may just crash into his second trip to the bonus round alongside DJ Augustin, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross and the ever-improving Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac. After that, could the Magic create a little bit of chaos for an unsuspecting first-round opponent? Possibly.
But first thing is first. Nikola Vucevic will enjoy his first trip to All-Star Weekend by playing on Giannis Antetokoumnpo’s pick up team. And he’ll enjoy each and every moment.
`It’s a proud moment for me,” Vucevic told OrlandoMagic.com.
Have yourself some fun while you’re out there, big guy.