NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 23: Nikola Vucevic from USC greets NBA Commissioner David Stern after he was selected #16 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
It's no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers selection of Nikola Vucevic at number 16 in the 2011 NBA Draft was extremely unpopular amongst Sixers fans. Vucevic's Verne Troyeresque ceiling paired with his astonishing lack of athleticism had Sixers fans fuming. The pick wasn't sexy at all, which is what every fan is looking for, on draft night especially – a shiny, new, "sexy" toy to play with.
Fans come in all shapes and sizes, but whether you're a twelve year-old eternal rainbows and butterflies optimist, a cranky, middle-aged realist/pessimist or somewhere in between, every fan gets off when their team acquires a, for lack of a better word, "sexy", player. Sexy meaning, jumps high, runs fast, dunks hard, breaks ankles, or all of the above.
Emphatically emphasized by this factoid presented on draft night "Of players drafted in the top 30 over the last 11 years, only one had a worse vertical than Nikola Vucevic. His name was Pavel Podkolzine. Pavel Podkolzine was 7'5", 303 pounds," Vucevic was the anti-Kate Upton of 2011 selections when it came to sexy.
However; as history proves time and time again, "sexy" players without substance rarely stick. Darko Milicic, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Rodney Carney, Julian Wright, Michael Beasley, Terrance Williams, the list goes on of "sexy" players fans salivated over who turned out to be busts.
Will this stop any of us from drooling over the next Gerald Green and/or exploding into a venom-spewing, CAPS LOCK-hammering, Twitter-jail'd ball of irrational hate the next time our favorite team drafts an underwhelming big man who can barely clear an ant on the playground? Absolutely not. Fans will always be infatuated with "sexy" on draft night.
Eight months later, it turns out Vucevic was a halfway decent pick for the Sixers. Although his ultimate ceiling may have increased from "Verne Troyer" to "Verne Troyer in 3-inch heels", he's still very much what we thought he'd be – a solid, yet unspectacular big man coming off the bench for a good team.
Is there anything wrong with drafting such a player with the 16th pick in a weak draft? Absolutely not. All things considered, the Sixers did very well selecting Vucevic at 16.
(Click here for a comparison of Vooch to five other big men (Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson, Bismack Biyombo, Markieff Morris and Kenneth Faried) selected in the 2011 draft. Despite being drafted after four of the five big men compared, Vooch currently ranks second in PER and true shooting percentage and first in turnover percentage and win shares.)
Vooch may not possess the ceilings of Enes Kanter or Tristan Thompson, the raw physical tools of Bismack Biyombo, or the general awesome-ness of Kenneth Faried, but he's playing 16+ meaningful minutes per game on the fifth best team in the NBA, and producing on par with the highly-touted big man of his class.
Although on-court awareness and old school post moves don't leave most Sixers fans needing to be hosed down like a Kenneth Faried dunk would, Vooch has proven that he boasts some actual basketball skills, which believe it or not, has more staying power in the NBA than "sexy".