The 7-footer has enough size and toughness to be noticed. He has offensive moves around the basket that impress you with their smoothness. Most importantly, and maybe most surprisingly, he has teammates who insist that he assert himself on the court. Or as teammate Thaddeus Young yelled after listening in to part of Vucevic's interview last night with reporters, "Rookie, you better shoot the ball."
In 17 minutes off the bench against the Pacers, on a night when teammate Spencer Hawes and his balky back were gutting out the evening, Vucevic shot 5-for-8 - including a three-pointer - scored 11 points and had eight rebounds.
And when it was over, he was able to admit to an honest and happy surprise that things were going so well, so soon.
"I thought it would probably take them a little longer to know me, what I do well, that it would take time to know each other," he said. "But my teammates, I think the thing that most surprised me is that they really trust me. They really want me to be aggressive on the offensive end. When I'm open, they want me to shoot. That means a lot to me as a rookie, to come in and have older guys wanting me to shoot the ball."
Seventeen minutes last night, nearly 20 minutes the game before - coach Doug Collins has officially expanded his rotation to include nine contributing players. Given the shortness of training camp following the NBA lockout, it was hard for outsiders to imagine that this might happen. Not insiders, though.
Asked if he was surprised, Collins said, "No. I fell in love the first time I saw the kid. He has a real nice demeanor about himself. He's very ball-friendly. He knows how to play. The guys on the team like him and trust him. The coaches like him and trust him. And he just plays in a nice rhythm out there . . .
"I felt good about him the first time I saw him, I really did. There are certain guys, you just see them and you like them. That's why Rod Thorn [the Sixers' president] and I were praying on draft night that that guy was going to be there for us."
Their confidence was quickly relayed to the rest of the coaches and the players, but nobody in the professional sports business believes anything until they see it.
"I wasn't really familiar with Nik but the coaching staff thought he was ready this summer," teammate Lou Williams said. "Going into this thing, when they were first getting ready to draft him, there was a lot of talk that they felt like he would be one of those guys who could come in and contribute right away. He's done that. He's done an excellent job. For this to be only game No. 8 for him, I think the sky's the limit for him and he's another notch for our deep group."
With Vucevic showing what he has done, and Hawes showing the improvement he has shown, the Sixers now have a potential big-and-effective presence that can last for 48 minutes - something they rarely could show last season. It is just one of the reasons why this team is 6-2 - and why, if people are paying attention, crowds of 8,612 at the Wells Fargo Center should soon be aberrations rather than stubborn reminders of the past.
"With [Vucevic's] skill set - his skill level being so high - I think everyone had confidence in him that, when he got his number called, he could go in and contribute," Hawes said. "The last two games, he's done nothing to prove otherwise."
It is a long year, even if it is only 66 games because of the lockout, and nobody knows what it is going to be like after a month of the NBA's hellacious schedule. But the Sixers are young and they are deep and they are counting on both of those things mattering in the current environment.
And that includes Vucevic.
"It's fun," he said. "We play as a team, we share the ball, we help each other on defense. It's a lot of fun. When you have a good team chemistry, it's a lot more fun to play."
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