Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY
Nikola Vucevic had a major skill to improve upon this offseason.
He posted the third most double doubles in the league last year, yet something was missing on the interior. It was a toughness and paint and rim protection that the elite big men have. Vucevic was only in his second year and had a lot to learn. He spent most of that season without the support of Glen Davis, a more rugged defender, behind him. The defensive onus fell on Vucevic.
There were times he played well and times he struggled.
Jacque Vaughn came into the season saying the goal for Vucevic and the other bigs was to do a better job challenging at the rim, blocking shots and protecting the paint. Already, it seems, that work has paid off with Jason Maxiell, Solomon Jones and Kyle O'Quinn able to provide some muscle behind him.
"It definitely helps having good player slike Max and Glen around you," Vucevic said. "I think we fit together pretty well -- Glen and me and Jason and me. I think we are going to play well together. I think it is going to work well on the court both offensively and defensively.
"There are no easy nights in the NBA. Every night a team is going to have good players on the court."
Vucevic has already turned some heads, picking up a flagrant foul in the preseason for a hard foul and then picking up another flagrant foul in the season opener for an apparent elbow to Lance Stephenson. His pocket book probably does not like those calls, but the message was sent that Vucevic was a bit of a different player.no comments