Nikola Vucevic lands at No. 14 on HoopHype’s Top 25 Centers List

·2 min read

Despite trade rumors swirling from before last season’s trade deadline through this offseason, Nikola Vucevic remains as the Bulls starting center heading into the 2022-23 season.

Last season, Vucevic had a down shooting year with a lack-luster presence on the defensive end, which attributed to a first-round exit for Chicago against Milwaukee in five games.

In HoopHype’s latest NBA rankings, Vucevic landed at No. 14 on their Top 25 centers list.

Frank Urbina of HoopsHype explains:

His shooting fell off a cliff last season as Nikola Vucevic hit just 31.4 percent of his threes while his defensive presence left the Chicago Bulls wanting. In fact, over his season-plus with the Bulls, Vucevic has been a negative-impact player, posting a -4.2 swing rating in 2020-21 and a -3.7 mark last season.

It didn’t help, however, that Patrick Williams, Chicago’s projected starting power forward and a defensive ace who would have covered multiple positions and helped protect Vucevic defensively, was lost after just merely games before returning just ahead of the playoffs.

With a full offseason to gel now, Vucevic and Williams should be able to form a strong partnership, one that should help the skilled center regain his All-Star form.

Vucevic does remain a stout rebounder who can do a good amount of scoring in the post and on face-up chances.

His raw numbers were solid enough, too, at 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists last campaign, but the Bulls are going to need more out of their center if they want to become something more than first-round playoff fodder in 2022-23.

For the Bulls to build upon their No. 6 seed this coming season, along with health, Vucevic will need to channel the Orlando version of himself and be a more effective rim protector.

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Story originally appeared on Lonzo Wire