If you were available to watch a mediocre basketball game at 8:30 AM, you could've seen Montenegro play Macedonia in the FIBA preliminary rounds. Our 1st round pick, Nikola Vucevic, was playing for Montenegro. Here's my thoughts.
1st quarter: Vucevic doesn't check into game the entire first quarter because he is playing behind Nikola Pekovic of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Think about this: Our first round pick cannot get the start over the second string center of the Timberwolves. Great.
2nd quarter: It's getting a little weird. The coach refuses to give Pekovic a breather. Is Vucevic this bad?
7:50: Vucevic checks in for the first time.
7:34: Makes an impressive defensive stop in the low post. Then again, it was against whoever plays center for Macedonia...
7:27: Misses an alley-oop on the fast break. It was a great lob and Vucevic couldn't hold onto so he threw it at the back board. It was pretty ugly.
7:19. Gets the ball in the low post, spins, gets fouled. Something no one on the Sixers can do. Atta boy Voose.
7:19: Goes 0-2 from the line. Dammit I thought he was getting on a roll.
6:23: Gets lazy while guarding his man in the high post, as the guy tries a runner in the lane he doesn't move his feet and just reaches in blindly. Sound familiar?
4:30: Falls for his opponents pump-fake 2 meters outside the three point line, then reaches in to foul. Yep, the Sixers definitely drafted this guy on "potential."
3:56: Exits game.
The announcer kept on praising Vucevic for being "extremely athletic" and "very talented, just inexperienced", but I have yet to see it in the game.
3rd quarter: The announcer seems to like Vucevic more than the coach. "Both sides have their best teams on the floor - except Vucevic." I feel like Vucevic should be starting over Pekovic, seeing as Pekovic is missing layups left and right. I feel a little better about our draftee.
5:50 Vucevic checks in.
5:34: Allows offensive rebound, then rejects the shot. Looks like he actually uses his height to his advantage.
5:12: Gets the ball on the baseline, fades and shoots the 10-footer. It actually goes in. Impressive. Vucevic may show us more mid-range game this year than Evan Turner...
4:42: Pekovic leaves the game, allowing Vucevic to play center. Lets see how this goes.
4:08: Allows inside pass and then an easy layup. Stands there kind of confused. Okay Voose, let's see you recover from this.
2:20: We finally see Voose go to work inside. Either Voose is really strong or his opponent was really weak because he backed his guy down and got an easy layup. It was nice.
1:20: Gets defensive rebound then gets fouled. Goes 1-2 from the line. It's kind of a theme in this game, Montenegro is shooting 48% from the line. Yuck.
:05: Misses three from way beyond the arc, then Macedonia runs down the floor and gets an easy layup. His coach had something to say about that...
4th quarter: Vucevic seems to be getting more confident as the game goes on, demanding defensive rebounds and making good passes. I like him.
7:15: Vucevic exits game.
2:01: Vucevic checks back in.
:38: Misses wide open long 2. It was with three seconds left on the shot clock, so you can't exactly blame him for taking the long 2.
Montenegro wins 70-5 in OT!
I like Vucevic as a power forward this year. He isn't ready to play center yet. As soon as Vucevic began to play the 5, the guards started getting more easy layups. That may not be his fault, but his one-on-one defense and midrange game I think could make him a good backup to Elton Brand. I think Vucevic can definitely play in the NBA. His team defense needs some work, but his one-on-one defense is NBA ready (I think. Then again, I've never compared FIBA to the NBA...) and his offense has potential. If he works hard I think his ceiling is definitely higher than, say, Spencer Hawes. Remember, the Sixers were most efficient with Thad at the 4 and Brand at the 5. Any other combination was nowhere near as efficient. Vucevic could change that.