Nikola Vucevic is filling an incredibly versatile role for the Bulls this season

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

As the Chicago Bulls get set to take on the Washington Wizards on the night of Jan. 7, it looks like there are multiple players from this team that could be All-Star selections this season. A big three for the Bulls consisting of star center Nikola Vucevic, shooting guard/forward DeMar DeRozan, and shooting guard Zach LaVine are driving forces to the team’s success so far this season.

And that Bulls’ big three is also a group that could get All-Star nods in 2022. At the moment, it looks like LaVine and DeRozan are going to be locks to get All-Star nods this season. Vucevic is the one that still likely has something to prove to get an All-Star nod this season.

Vucevic is definitely the most interesting case of these three too. If not for a slow start to the regular season, Vucevic would also look like a lock to be an All-Star in 2022. Yet, he got off to maybe the most disappointing start of any Bulls player this season.

While Vucevic did pick up his play in a big way of late, he still has a lot to make up for if he does want to get his third career All-Star nod this year.

One way to evaluate the candidacy of Vucevic as an All-Star this season is knowing just how difficult the role that he’s filling is to play in. Vucevic is asked to essentially be a rim protector, elite rebounder, floor spacer, inside-out distributor on offense, and a versatile inside scorer. And he’s essentially asked to do all of that at the same time.

It looks like it took a while for Vucevic to settle into his new role this season too. But he’s definitely found his groove of late. And the evidence of how well he’s starting to fill this difficult role that asks so much of him of late is presented in his increasingly productive stat line.

Since the start of December, Vucevic is averaging around 18 points per game, 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and 1.5 blocks. And he’s shot around 44 percent from the field, 37 percent from beyond the arc, and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

How Nikola Vucevic is filling one of the most difficult roles the Chicago Bulls could ask of him

The numbers that Vucevic is putting up of late are definitely good enough to get him some All-Star consideration. He has turned into one of the most effective rebounders in the Eastern Conference. And he has molded his game in a way to become a legitimate shot blocker.

That’s not to mention the fact that Vucevic is still shooting the ball from deep at an efficient clip north of 37 percent from beyond the arc in the last 13 games he’s played in.

The evidence of how effective Vucevic is for the Bulls right now in a role that asks a ton from him is present in a historical context for his numbers this season.

Some of the per-game stats and shooting percentages that Vucevic has registered to start the season are in line to put him in a realm that very few star big men have ever been a part of.

There are only three players in NBA history that have averaged at least 15 points per game, 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and 1.5 blocks while shooting at least 35 percent from beyond the arc, in one season. Those three are Kevin Garnett, Hakeem Olajuwon, and DeMarcus Cousins.

If Vucevic continues to produce at the pace he has so far this season, which should be very doable given his slow start, then he would be the fourth to accomplish such a feat in NBA history. That would truly be an elite group to join.

The very fact that all of the times previously where this group of big men achieved such a feat they were All-Star selections should be enough to get Vucevic serious consideration for that nod this season. It also goes to show just how valuable he is for the Bulls this season.

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Vucevic and the Bulls are currently sporting a record of 25-10 after their four-point home win over the Orlando Magic back on Jan. 3. Next up for the first-place Bulls (in the Eastern Conference standings) is a matchup against the Wizards at home at the United Center on Jan. 7.