Bulls Insider

Nikola Vučević downplays historic NBA stat line


Nikola Vučević made NBA history Monday night. Just don’t expect him to turn cartwheels about it.

“It’s nice to hear,” Vučević said via Zoom from Atlanta. “But when it comes to those stats, I feel like you can make up a stat with anything nowadays.”

That was the Chicago Bulls’ All-Star center’s reaction to him becoming the first NBA player ever to post a stat line of at least 24 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and four 3-pointers in the same game.

When relayed those numbers, Vučević, as is his nature, took a big-picture, team-oriented view.

“I feel like stats in general should be like five, 10, 15, 20, 25 games. So it’s consistent,” he said. “Obviously, it’s hard to find the same exact stat as I had. 24 is random. 17 is random.

“It’s nice. Obviously, I’m glad I played well and I was able to have a good all-around game to help us win. But as far as that, it’s nice but I don’t necessarily care to be the only player to do it.”

More importantly, Vučević’s monster night continued his recent resurgence. During the Bulls’ four-game win streak, Vučević is averaging 19.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 blocks while shooting 50 percent overall and 44 percent on 3-pointers.

DeMar DeRozan, Vučević’s college teammate at USC, consistently and loudly backed Vučević during the big man’s early-season shooting woes. Asked why following the Bulls’ victory over the Atlanta Hawks, DeRozan offered a forceful response.

“I know how hard Vooch works,” DeRozan said. “I would never let a period of time of him struggling depict who he is as a player. He’s a dominant force at his position, one of the most skilled big men inside and out that we have in this league. His career speaks for it. It was only a matter of time. I’m always going to have confidence in him without a doubt.”

Don’t look now but Vučević has pushed his 3-point percentage to 36.1 percent, above his career percentage of 35.7. And while his 42 percent shooting lags behind his career percentage of 49.3, he’s trending upward.

Even if he didn’t call glass on a late 3-pointer he banked in to beat the shot clock.

“I had to just throw it up there,” Vučević said, smiling. “There was a second left. It was a little bit of a lucky shot, but we’ll take it.”

Just like Vučević will begrudgingly accept making NBA history.

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