Offseason: Nikola Vučević
"MVP! MVP! MVP!” a completely outlandish statement when compared to the rest of the league; where you have the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden, but for the city of Orlando Vooch had become our homegrown MVP and during game 3 (first home playoff game in Orlando) we all showed our appreciation. Nikola Vučević had kept us alive all season with his pick and roll play with DJ Augustin, his much improved 3 point game and, his prowess hitting clutch shots and sustaining a scoring punch as he made his claim for his first NBA All-Star selection while simultaneously leading the Orlando Magic to their first postseason in 7 years.
Many fans have passionately supported Nikola the entire season, as he has become a wonderful center for the modern NBA. He can post up in the low post (although having some trouble with large, physical players like Joel Embiid and Marc Gasol), his defense is much improved as well; showcasing more effort and smarter decision making when stepping out to the 3pt line to contest shooters, and engaging in double teaming efforts in the mid-range. All in all, you would be hard-pressed to argue that Vooch has not deserved something close to a max contract this offseason.
This leads us to the difficult question at hand: Should the Orlando Magic offer Nikola Vučević a max contract to stay with Orlando?
One of the biggest arguments between fans of the Magic is surrounding the player who had a hit song with his name as the chorus before he set foot on an NBA court. Mo Bamba is a freakish athlete at first glance who fits the profile of a Jeff Weltman type player. Bamba stands at 6’11.5" without shoes, with a wingspan of 7’10”, he is made for post play, projections make Mo a defensive juggernaut with insane ground coverage. His length and mobility should prove beneficial to the Orlando Magic. During his rookie season, he did sustain a leg fracture keeping away from on-court activities after playing just 47 games and averaging 6.2 pts and 1.4 blocks per game. Mo Bamba is just 21 years old and fits the youth currently surrounding the Orlando Magic roster.
The Canadian native who found his way to the Orlando Magic after going undrafted from Nevada-Las Vegas and playing a successful 14-15 season in the G-League averaging 11.2 Pts per game 9.7 Rebs, and 1.8 Blks has made a name for himself as a role player in Orlando. During the playoffs playing against Toronto in his home country, he averaged 5.2 Pts, 6.2 Rebs, and 1 Blk in 5 games played. Khem Birch has proved himself worthy of consistent playing time in the league.
When you look at the Center position for the Orlando Magic one can argue that Nikola Vučević is necessary. The front office should very closely consider re-signing Vooch even if they do have to pay more than what they expect. Growth and Team Chemistry go hand in hand. The Orlando Magic have something wonderful brewing, in the sense that every player on the roster wants their brothers on the team to be successful. This type of system is going to be vital in the success of the development of the young players like Mo Bamba and Khem Birch. Nikola can be used as a steady scoring force while Mo returns from injury and Khem continues to develop.
The Orlando Magic may have to make a decision to have Vooch stay onboard as an insurance policy for the developing Mo Bamba. In the meantime, Vučević will continue to work on his game. He has been through a lot as a Magic player, has experienced the many lows suffered by Orlando in his tenure as the Magic center and his passion and desire to see Orlando thrive is apparent. Nikola is the veteran voice that can help Mo develop to take the helm in a couple of seasons and can still be a valuable trade asset if Mo Bamba and Khem Birch grow exponentially this offseason. Ultimately the Orlando Magic should bring Vooch back with a plan to further develop Mo Bamba turning him into the future center of the Orlando Magic.
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