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On Saturday night, Nikola Vucevic scored a career-high 34 points and pulled down 16 rebounds against the Trail Blazers. Not only are the Blazers second in the Western Conference (1.5 games back of the Warriors), but they also have a top-five defense – Portland ranks second in defensive efficiency, allowing 100.9 points per 100 possessions.
But it didn’t matter. Vucevic scored at will against the Blazers’ frontcourt. Chris Kaman, Meyers Leonard, and LaMarcus Aldridge took turns defending Vucevic, but none of them had much success in slowing him down. It was a superb game against an elite team.
Vucevic followed up that performance with a 33-point, 11-rebound master class against the Bulls – highlighted by his destruction of Pau Gasol.
Anyone that has watched the Magic closely this season knows that Vucevic is putting up All-Star numbers. He leads the NBA with 23 double-doubles and his 21.7 PER ranks sixth in the East.
The problem for Vucevic is that the Magic are a losing team. They’re 14-27 and 13th in the Eastern Conference (ahead of only the Sixers and Knicks). Unfortunately for Vucevic, the odds that he’ll get voted in as a reserve by the East coaches are low.
For those that remember, when Arron Afflalo was with the Magic last season, he was in the same situation. He was playing at an All-Star caliber level, but because he was playing on one of the worst teams in the league, he didn’t get selected. Vucevic could experience déjà vu.