The Sacramento Kings’ luck has begun to change after beating The Utah Jazz at home in a Friday night nail biter and then stomping the Knicks in the Garden Sunday afternoon. This may be a sign of ascension after back-to-back wins.
A big part of the Kings’ success from these two wins is the effective play of Nemanja Bjelica. His performance has been a strong point early on in Sacramento’s season, even amidst all the initial disappointment.
Following Marvin Bagley’s injury, Bjelica was handed the keys to hold down the four position and since then, he has fit in wonderfully as a piece in the starting lineup. He knows his strengths and weaknesses while being aware of his expectations, making him the perfect role player and the perfect guy to step in when a cornerstone goes down.
You’ll never see Bjelica take a bad shot. He is shooting at a high percentage from everywhere on the court. He plays good defense, rebounds well, and has a high basketball IQ. The only minor downside to his game is his speed, and even that is not an inhibitor to the team when he is on the floor.
Adding to his value, he compliments the center position perfectly as well. His true shooting ability allows him to play as a stretch four which, in turn, draws defenders out of the paint.
Bjelica has paired up nicely next to Richaun Holmes when they’re on the court together. As Bjelica brings more fundamental basketball to the floor from his lack of athleticism, Holmes contrasts him perfectly with agility, speed, and tenacity.
The two have formed quite the duo in the Kings’ front court, earning them the namesake of one of the most effective duos in modern culture: Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Bjelica’s fate will most likely have him back on the bench once Bagley returns, but expect nothing different in his changed role. The stretch big man plays hard as a starter, but equally as hard as a bench player, like we witnessed last season.
The 2015 Euro League MVP is definitely a plus to have on the team. Whatever role he is given, he takes it on with stride while contributing to, not detracting from, overall team performance.
Although he may not be flashy, Bjelica’s subtle effect has not gone unnoticed in Sacramento where the un-flashy get justifiably rewarded.