A late addition to the Sacramento Kings roster for the 2018-19 season, Nemanja Bjelica proved to be a solid addition by general manager Vlade Divac.
While he didn't wow anyone with his athleticism, the former Euro League MVP was a big reason the Kings jumped out to a fast start. He hit a wall midseason, like a few of his younger teammates, but Bjelica rebounded late and finished the year strong.
The lone veteran to see major court time throughout the season, Bjelica was an extremely valuable piece to the Kings' rotation and will likely be so again during the 2019-20 season.
Stats: 9.6 points, 1.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds, .7 steals, 47.9% FG, 40.1% 3pt, 23.2 min
The Kings needed a floor spacer on the front line and Bjelica proved more than adequate. The 6-foot-10 forward struggled to maintain his consistency throughout the year, but when he was on, the Kings were a better team. And when he wasn't on, the numbers say the Kings were still a better team.
A look at the shot charts show that Bjelica is a veteran that plays to his strengths. Of his 593 field goal attempts, only 29 attempts came from outside of 10-foot and inside the 3-point line. He either shot within 10-feet (307 attempts) or from behind the arc (257).
Bjelica shot 63.5 percent at the rim and 44.1 percent from 3-10 feet. From long range, he knocked down 103 triples on 40.1 percent shooting, which was integral to the Kings' half court offense.
Only 14 of Bjelica's makes came from the corner, which would further help space the floor. Where the Serbian-born shooter thrived was from the elbows and the top of the key, especially from the left side where he shot a remarkable 52.2 percent.
In addition to the deep shooting, Bjelica posted a career-best 1.9 assists per game and finished third on the team in offensive rebounding.
Billed as a three/four when signed, Bjelica played almost exclusively at the power spot, with a sprinkling of minutes at the center position added in. For the most part, he held his own, although he had some struggles against the more mobile stretch fours.
On the season, Bjelica ran a negative 1.6 percent field goal against. He defended the perimeter well, holding his opponents to a negative five percent shooting from outside of 15 feet and a negative 5.4 percent from behind the 3-point line.
He held his own on the interior as well, allowing just a plus .2 percent on 2-pointers and a plus .8 percent inside of 10-feet. These are all numbers you can live with, especially for a player that split minutes.
Per 36 minutes, Bjelica averaged 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He was deceptively good at on ball defending in the post and he was rarely out of position. In addition, Bjelica's on court/off court splits say that the Kings were a better offensive and defensive team with him in the game.
Joerger relied heavily on Bjelica at times, much to the chagrin of many inside the walls of Golden 1 Center. The numbers are on the coach's side.
Bjelica posted a career-year and while he wasn't perfect, the Kings received plenty of value from the 30-year-old veteran. He spaced the floor and was surprisingly better at almost every aspect of the game than expected.
The fourth-year forward is under contract next season with the Kings at $6.8 million and Sacramento has a $7.1 million team option for the 2020-21 season as well.
He likely won't start 77 games for the Kings next season as Marvin Bagley moves into a larger role, but there is always room on a roster for a pure shooting big with a high basketball IQ.