Monday, January 24, 2022

Nikola Vucevic Finally Breaks Offensive Slump


Nikola Vucevic has had a rough go for the Chicago Bulls this season on the offensive side of the floor.

Last night versus the Charlotte Hornets, however, gave Vooch life on offense. He was the team’s leading scorer with a season-high 30 points, shooting 12-of-19 from the floor and cashing all six of his three-point attempts.

He added 14 rebounds and five assists to his 35-minute night that helped the Bulls score the most points they have scored this season with 133 points.

The fact that the Hornets were without Mason Plumlee and played their only other center, Nick Richards, just seven minutes could have made Vucevic’s night a lot easier. But, his hot shooting night should give him confidence moving forward.

Vucevic’s Slump

It wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine before this contest, however. Vooch’s season thus far has not lived up to the expectation of a recent all-star.

On top of already having a rough shooting streak to start the season, he missed seven games due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

This season, he is averaging 14.5 points per contest, which is seven points less than last year. And while he’s staying busy on the glass and in the passing game, his shooting is a blatant problem.

Vooch is shooting 42.1 percent from the field (he shoots a career 49.4 percent from the field), 33.3 percent from three, and an alarming 61.5 percent from the charity stripe.

Luckily, behind the strong performances so far from two MVP candidates Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls are third in the Eastern Conference with a 14-8 record.

Let’s dive deeper into Vucevic’s shooting this season.

Vucevic Advanced Shooting

Take a look at his shooting from certain spots last season compared to this season. From mid-range, precisely 16 feet to three-point range, Vucevic is a career 44 percent shooter from that area. This season he’s shooting 28.6 percent.

More frightening, he is shooting 50 percent from within three feet of the basket. His career average from that area is 65.6 percent.

As advertised, Vucevic is a patented catch-and-shoot player in the league. Last season, Vucevic averaged the most points off of the catch-and-shoot by a margin of over two points. He also shot 42.3 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from distance on those shots.

Catch-and-shoot shots are Vucevic’s bread-and-butter plays. It helps him get into a rhythm and gives him less work to find the bottom of the net. It’s best used when he is the roll man in pick-and-roll situations, which the Bulls have given him. But, he’s struggling to find his shot, which is okay this early on in the season.

This season, Vooch is averaging 6.7 points per game on catch-and-shoot, nearly four points less on average than he did last season. To top things off, he’s shooting 37.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc on those shots.

His performance against the Hornets should give him confidence and a bit of light moving forward. It won’t be an easy road for him though. Thursday, the Bulls will take on the New York Knicks, who have a strong defensive frontcourt.

But, with injuries to Taj Gibson, Nerlens Noel, and Mitchell Robinson, Vucevic might be able to find his shot and help the Bulls out offensively.

We’ll find out Thursday if Monday night’s game against the Hornets wasn’t just a fluke of hot shooting and undersized defense.

Ryan Taylor
Ryan is pursuing an undergraduate in journalism and a graduate degree in digital communication from DePaul University. He has been with Sports Mockery since 2021. He primarily covers the Chicago Bulls.

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