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Nikola Vucevic Accomplished Something on Monday That Michael Jordan Never Did While Also Proving He is the Driving Force Behind the Chicago Bulls’ Success

Nikola Vucevic was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Monday night in Toronto, becoming just the fifth player in NBA history with this distinction. Players like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley never accomplished such an accomplishment while also proving they are one of the main reasons why their respective teams’ success has been so remarkable.

Nikola Vucevic accomplished something on Monday that Michael Jordan never did while also proving he is the driving force behind the Chicago Bulls’ success. Read more in detail here: bulls nba.

Michael Jordan’s stint with the Chicago Bulls is widely regarded as the greatest in basketball history, since he led the club to six NBA titles in eight years, won five MVP awards, and established several team records. But not even Jordan had a stat line as overpowering as Bulls center Nikola Vucevic’s in Chicago’s 130-118 thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

The 7-foot Vucevic posted a do-it-all, spectacular stat line never previously replicated (or surpassed) by an NBA player, according to Statmuse, with 24 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, four blocks, and four made 3-pointers. That kind of performance reinforced why some NBA observers regard Vucevic — not star guards DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine — as the key piece in the Bulls’ long-awaited return to the title race.

Vooch isn’t afraid to put up huge numbers.

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In Monday’s thrashing of the Hawks, a normally sturdy defensive team that swept the Bulls a season ago, Nikola Vucevic accomplished a little bit of everything. He made nine of his 19 shots, four of his eight 3-point attempts, and four of his 17 offensive rebounds. After LaVine and DeRozan combined for 44 points in the first half, Vucevic slammed the Hawks with 19 points in the last 24 minutes. The center’s banked-in 3-pointer with barely more than three minutes to go was the game-winner, boosting Chicago’s advantage to four points and sending it on its way to a fourth consecutive victory.

Vucevic, a two-time NBA All-Star, has a history of big games for the Bulls. On Nov. 29, he showed the Charlotte Hornets and James Borrego, his old coach with the Orlando Magic, how dominating he can be when he’s aggressive and looking for shots. Vucevic thrashed the Hornets that night with 30 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and six made 3-pointers. He pushed the Bulls to an incredible plus-31 on the scoreboard during his time on the court, sinking 12 of 19 shots and all six 3-point heaves.

That overpowering performance, as well as the one he put on Monday in Atlanta, was exactly what the Bulls were hoping for when they traded for the big man at the trade deadline last season. Vucevic’s selflessness and team-first approach have prompted him to defer to LaVine and DeRozan at times. On Monday, though, Vucevic demonstrated why long-time NBA coach Doc Rivers once called the center “the most underappreciated player in the NBA.”

Of course, early in his career, many NBA fans disregarded Vucevic since the Magic teams he was a part of were largely bad. Despite his relative obscurity in Orlando, Vucevic quietly blossomed into one of the NBA’s top all-around players.

From 2012 to 21, the center has 354 double-doubles and three triple-doubles in 591 games with the Magic. The majority of Vucevic’s efforts, however, were in fruitless, as the Magic remained mired in rebuilding mode for years and never even made the playoffs. In 2019, he finally broke through as he was named to the NBA All-Star Team for the first time in his career and led the Magic to the NBA playoffs.

The Bulls’ “Big 4” are Vucevic, DeRozan, LaVine, and Ball.

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Make no mistake: the Chicago Bulls are all-in on reclaiming their status as title contenders. And, to be honest, it’s past time for a once-proud team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016-17 and hasn’t won a postseason series since 2014-15.

Chicago has actively added weaponry to back up its drive to win. The Bulls traded two first-round draft selections to the Magic to get Vucevic after signing Billy Donovan as head coach last season. They also expanded their wallet this summer to sign DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso to free-agent agreements.

As a consequence, the Bulls are 21-10 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. Despite suffering from a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak, Chicago began 4-0 and 6-1 before winning 12 of its first 17 games. The Bulls have just rebounded from a two-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak, culminating by Monday’s rout of Atlanta.

DeRozan (27 points per game, 4.4 assists per game) and LaVine (26.4 points per game, 4.4 assists per game) have been Chicago’s go-to scorers, while Ball (13.2 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, and 5.0 assists per game) and Caruso (8.0 points per game, 4.0 assists per game, and 2.0 steals per game) have provided the Bulls with some dynamic point guard play.

But it’s Vucevic (15.8 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per game, 3.6 assists per game, and 1.2 blocks per game) who might be the key to Chicago’s resurgence. He has 14 double-doubles, five 20-point outings, and ten games with multiple made 3-pointers this season. Vucevic can fill up a box score by making winning plays, as he demonstrated again on Monday in Atlanta, and the Bulls will need him to go far in the playoffs this spring.

“I believe Vooch has found a way to blend with those other two players, and it’s been wonderful to see,” interim Bulls head coach Chris Fleming said of LaVine and DeRozan to The Associated Press. “It’s played a significant role in our success.”

Basketball Reference provided the statistics.

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