Although officially titled the 2023 FIBA World Cup, I’ve begun referring to this summer’s biggest basketball event as the boarding ramp for the Nikola Vucevic hype train. The two-time All-Star and Chicago Bulls center has been absolutely electric thus far and has carried his home country of Montenegro through the first round and to a guaranteed top-16 placement for the first time in the nation’s history.
Averaging 20.7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game, Vucevic has left his imprint on the game from every area of the court while steering Montenegro to two wins over Mexico and Egypt. His efforts have even earned him an impressive 28.85 global rating, a statistic from HoopsHype designed to aggregate all of a player’s contributions into one singular statistic. Vucevic ranks 6th among all players and 4th of those specifically in the NBA in global rating through the group stages.
Hopefully, he can carry this positive momentum into the next round, as he’ll have his work cut out for him. Vucevic and Montenegro are set to take on a stacked Team USA roster on Friday before finishing things up with Greece on Sunday. Since Montenegro lost to Lithuania in the group stage finale, they’ll likely need to win both games against the USA and Greece to advance to the 8-team quarter-finals.
That might be asking just a bit too much from this Montenegrin team, but it hasn’t been for a lack of effort on Vucevic’s behalf. Here’s how he stacks up to the other players at this year’s World Cup thus far.
Former All-Star and Bulls center Nikola Vucevic isn’t being given enough credit for his dominance in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Interestingly enough, Bulls point guard Carlik Jones has also rated out very well in global rating. His score of 22.76 is good for 19th overall and 12th among all NBA players. Believe it or not, Jones currently leads all players in the World Cup in assists with 8.5 per game per game and has piled on the third-most points per game with 28.
If South Sudan was a stronger team overall, Carlik would certainly be in the running to receive the World Cup MVP award. Meanwhile, Sportskeeda has Vucevic ranked fourth on the current FIBA World Cup MVP ladder, behind only Luka Doncic, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Speaking of Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander, their global rating stats truly signal just how far ahead of the competition they are. I suspect it’s only a matter of time until Doncic moves on from World Cup MVP awards and starts piling up NBA MVPs instead. If Luka’s undefeated Slovenian team keeps this up, it appears they’ll have to go through Spain and then Serbia to qualify for the finals, while SGA’s similarly undefeated Canadian team is on a collision course with Germany and then the USA before the finals.
Hopefully, Vucevic will join these two stars in the World Cup’s bracketed quarter-finals. Even if he doesn’t, at least we saw enough to prove that Vooch still has plenty in the tank and can continue playing at an All-Star caliber for now. I hope Billy Donovan was watching closely because Montenegro showed just how to get the best out of the big men moving forward. I hope to see much more of this low-post action for the Bulls next year.
Montenegro’s crucial matchup with Team USA tips off at 4:40 a.m. ET tomorrow, so make sure to set your alarms early if you want to see how Vucevic fairs against some of America’s greatest young talent in a do-or-die showdown in Manila.