In last night’s game, on 31 December 2012, Nikola Vucevic set a new Orlando Magic franchise record in rebounds with 29 boards against the Miami Heat.
Setting a franchise record in any statistical category in the NBA is no doubt something to be celebrated. But when you do it in an area that’s traditionally dominated by big men, for a franchise that had arguably the most dominant player to ever step on a court in Shaquille O’Neal and drafted the youngest player in NBA history to grab 7’000 rebounds, well, then you have achieved something really special.
Adding regular season and playoffs numbers, Shaq has played a total of 331 and Dwight a total of 678 games for Orlando. In fact, if we rank performances by total rebounds, they represent all but 7 spots of the Top100 and all but 16 spots of the Top 200 rebounding performances for the Magic. Even more impressive, Vucevic is now one of only 11 players to record 29 or more rebounds in any NBA game since the ’85/86 season, next to legends like Dennis Rodman or Dikembe Mutombo.
Does this make Nikola Vucevic the new Dwight Howard? No, probably not. Though, on the stats side, it’s worth to notice that the new franchise record holder is averaging 10.8pts / 10.5reb over the first 31 games of this season. That’s surprisingly close to Howard’s numbers at the end of his second season: 15.8pts / 12.5reb. In fact, if we adjust those numbers to a per 36min base, Vucevic’s rebound average equals Dwight’s at 12.2reb and the scoring difference melts to 2.7pts (12.7pts to 15.4pts).
On a more trivial note, Nikola Vucevic recorded another probably just as rare achievement in the same game: 4 rebounds in 6 seconds.