|Team: Maccabi Tel Aviv|
H: 6' 11"|
W: 250 lbs
(38 Years Old)
|Agent: Maurizio Balducci ||
Hometown: Vrgorac, Croatia
If there was a Euroleague hall of fame, Vujcic would surely be inducted into it after he retires. His basketball IQ, passing ability and overall skill level has made him somewhat of a legend in Tel Aviv, and he is really the most recognizable piece remaining on the roster of that incredible Maccabi team that went on a dynasty run a few years back alongside the likes of Anthony Parker, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Maceo Baston. Vujcic missed considerable time this year with all kinds of various injuries (particularly knee problems), and considering how fragile his body is at this point, the NBA canít considered anything more than a pipe-dream. That shouldnít take anything away from what heís accomplished thus far in his career, though, and surely doesnít mean he canít help Maccabi out this weekend.[Read Full Article]
Vujcic recently posted the second triple-double in Euroleague history. Ironically, the first one was also made by the Croatian Center last season. Vujcic is the lone remaining star from Maccabiís dynasty team that won two Euroleague championships and made the Final Four in each of the past three years, after Sarunas Jasikevicius, Maceo Baston and Anthony Parker all left Israel for the NBA. The Israeli powerhouse has struggled to regain its status this year so far.
Vujcic said that last summer was his last chance to get to the NBA, but he wasnít satisfied with the offers from the U.S. and decided to remain in Israel, where he enjoys cult status as a true Maccabi legend.
Nikola is a truly special offensive player, with uncanny passing ability. Even if Maccabi most of the time has two playmakers on the floor in potential NBA players Will Bynum and Yotam Halperin, Vujcic is the true playmaker of the team-- directing the offense from the high post. He is also a very skilled low post scorer, as well as a reliable shooter with range out to the international three-point line.
Although Nikola puts up good rebounding numbers, his defensive game has never looked more concerning. Jumping jack Maceo Baston hid a lot of Vujcicís defensive deficiencies in the past. Now with Lior Eliyahu playing alongside him, Nikola gets exposed on the defensive end where his soft attitude, lack of strength and poor athleticism are obvious.
Nonetheless, Vujcic is an elite Euroleague player and will probably be in contention for the MVP award.
While Parker is under contract for another year and appears very much content finishing off his career with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Nikola Vujcic is a player that will be on the free agent market and will be fielding offers from teams all over the globe.
Like Parker, Vujcic was absolutely outstanding in the semi-finals against Tau, coming up with 16 points (6/8 shooting) with 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 32 minutes of play. This might have been his best game of the year besides possibly the triple-double (11 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) he had in the regular season against Prokom.
He was doing absolutely everything he could in this game to make himself as much money as possible this upcoming summer, whether it was stroking 3-pointers from behind the arc, making incredibly intelligent passes playing a 2-man game with one of Maccabiís guards, leading the fast break, scoring with his back to the basket, throwing up a gorgeous alleyoop lob to Maceo Baston, knocking down 17 foot mid-range jumpers off the glass a la Tim Duncan, or even playing solid defense in the post. Vujcicís decision making was always lightning quick and absolutely impeccable, and he looked like a legit NBA big man with the phenomenal skill level and basketball IQ he showed.
Things didnít go nearly as well for him in the finals against CSKA. He got his first and only field goal of the game with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, finishing up 1/6 on the day, and only scored 4 points total to go along with 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 turnovers. After being completely invisible in the first half, Vujcic really forced the issue in the second, throwing in bad passes into the paint from the high post, being burned repeatedly on defensive rotations, and coming up with a terrible turnover late in the game after trying to force his way to the hoop with his back to the basket.
Only turning 28 this summer, the Croatian Vujcic is ready to cash in on a big contract this summer and will likely go to the highest bidder. He reportedly has multiple suitors amongst the powerhouse teams of Spain, but will also be fielding offers from NBA teams looking to use a sizable chunk of their MLE on a skilled big man.
On paper, Vujcic might be the difference between Croatia competing for a medal at this tournament or going home with their tails between their legs. Very few teams can boast having such a skilled near 7 foot center on their roster with such a nice resume over the past few years to boot. The problem is that that hasnít come to play much so far in the preparation games for Croatia, which doesnít bode too well for their chances.
Vujcic plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv, a dominant force in European basketball over the past few years, where he has won the Euroleague title over the past few years playing with a wonderful supporting cast that compliments him to a T, helping him be amongst three Maccabi players named to the All-Euroleague first team this past season. At age 27, he is in his prime and will be expected to play a major role for the Croatians in Belgrade if they are going to be able to overcome their relative lack of experience and reputation for coming up just short when things get close.
Vujcic is a mobile Center who offensively plays more like a Power Forward. He is extremely skilled in most facets here, whether itís his ability to put the ball on the floor with surprisingly good ball-handling skills, shoot the ball with decent accuracy all the way out to the three point line, or best of all use his high basketball IQ to pass the ball with purpose taking full advantage of his height. His ability on the pick and roll made this one of the signature plays between him and Sarunas Jasikevicius or Anthony Parker over the last two years with Maccabi. Vujcic also can score with his back to the basket, a skill that could pay great dividends for Croatia should they decide to take advantage of it.
His shortcomings fall in the defensive and rebounding categories mainly. His motor is not off the charts, nor is his level of conditioning, and his play can often be described as extremely soft by people who are used to seeing their big men fight and claw in the paint. His face-up skills often lead him to fade to the perimeter at times, and he does not seem to be the type to demand the ball and change the game by himself as the go-to guy for his team. How well Vujcic can mesh with his teammates leading into this tournament and just how much he will decide to take on his shoulders will play a big role in how far his team can go here in Belgrade. Considering that this is a contract year for Vujcic and Croatia would like nothing more than to stick it to their arch rivals Serbia and Montenegro on their home floor, we might see a Vujcic here who has some more fire in his belly than weíve grown accustomed to here in the past. Reports out of Israel this summer quoting his Entersport (led by Marc Fleisher) agent in the States have indicated that Vujcic is more interested in playing in the NBA than heís previously indicated. NBA scouts will surely be watching him closely here at the Eurobasket.
Nikola Vujcic- This skilled 26 year old 6-11 PF/C is probably the #1 European big man on the NBA's radar right now, but is under contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv for next year with no escape clause until next season. He will be scouted heavily next season and will most likely be considered one of the top free agent power forwards on the market next summer.[Read Full Article]