2011 NBA Draft: Philadelphia Sixers Select Nikola Vucevic

Cool hair!

The Philadelphia 76ers have selected with the 16th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Nikola Vucevic was ranked 20 on ESPN's top 100, 25 on DX's top 100, and 19 on the most important Big Board of all, the Liberty Ballers draft board

Make the jump for initial thoughts.

Here's what resident draft expert Derek Bodner had to say about him in his Sixers Draft Primer:

A dual threat in college, capable of playing down in the post or stepping out for the midrange jump shot. Vucevic has shown an extremely high learning curve, making substantial jumps in both his productivity and his skill level over the past two seasons.

In the post, Vucevic has good footwork and touch, showing the ability to go over both shoulders. His footwork is one of the more advanced and most diverse in the draft, and he shows a willingness to go down and play in the post, with an increasing ability to pass from this spot.

He's also improved drastically as a shooter, opening up the pick and pop game that has become almost a prerequisite for NBA big men. At this point his jump shot is mainly from midrange and in, but with his improving skill level it's not a stretch to think this will be extended out to NBA three point range. That's not to say his jump shot is perfect, as it's still riddled with inconsistency, but it's something that he has made huge strides on and that projects well in his future.

The worry (and some of the intrigue) stems from his physical profile. On the one hand, he has good height (6'11.5") and length (9'4.5"), both the best measurements of any player expected to be drafted at the NBA combine. He also has good size at 260 pounds, as he's put in good work to improve his strength. On the other hand, he's largely a below the rim player -- his 25" max vertical was by far the worst amongst expected draftees, creating an 11'5" max reach (with jump) well below not only most big men in the draft, but even guards over a half foot shorter, such as the 6'3" Josh Selby, Marshon Brooks, Alec Burks, and many others.

This lack of athleticism, combined with struggling at times to finish through contact, makes it uncertain how well his scoring around the basket and in the post will translate. That being said, any concerns about being soft don't necessarily translate to the defensive end or rebounding the ball, as he's willing to throw his body around defending the post and boxing out. His lower body is still not the strongest, and as such will struggle at times defending post scorers in the NBA. The bigger concern on the defensive end is defending the perimeter, as he has average (at best) foot speed.

Vucevic is a guy to keep your eye on, as I've heard from multiple sources that there's a very good chance he may be the Sixers pick if he's available at 16, barring somebody unexpected falling. His length and skill level make him a potential contributor at both ends of the court, but his overall lack of athletic ability creates a lot of uncertainty about his ultimate effectiveness. He is young for his class, as he'll just turn 21 years old when the season starts next year. If you are looking for an example of someone with good size but poor athleticism succeeding in the NBA, Greg Monroe last year provided the blue print (although Monroe was slightly better vertically than Vucevic).

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I dislike this pick on so many levels. Chris Singleton would've been my guy. I also preferred Jordan Hamilton, Donatas Motiejunas and Kenneth Faried over Vucevic. Much more to come later.

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