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Orlando coach Steve Clifford agrees with Nikola Vucevic that Magic star is ‘in his prime’

Nikola Vucevic

When Nikola Vucevic re-signed with the Orlando Magic this summer, he said he feels like he is just now entering his prime. Magic head coach Steve Clifford agrees with Vucevic and sees the All-Star big man having an even better 2019-20 campaign.

Orlando re-signed Vucevic to a four-year, $100 million contract this offseason.

“I just don’t see that he did anything that he wouldn’t be capable improving on this year,” Clifford told John Denton of Magic.com. “It’s not like he shot the ball really well from 3-point range, it’s not like he shot 43 percent and won’t be able to keep that up. I think he’ll shoot it even better this season.

“The thing that goes unnoticed with him is that for as good as he was offensively, he was very good defensively. He put a lot into last season and he’ll be back here next week after playing in the World Cup. But, I do agree with him that he’s in his prime. Talent comes in different ways. He’s not a high flyer, but his basketball IQ and his decision-making for a man his size – there’s not many who can do all the things that he can do.”

Nikola Vucevic averaged 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the regular season for the Magic in 2018-19 while shooting 51.8 percent from the field. The 28-year-old recorded 60 double-doubles, one triple-double and made his first All-Star team.

The Magic made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2012. Now, Vucevic will be tasked with leading Orlando to a playoff series win in 2019-20.