Who is Tristan Vukcevic, the Washington Wizards new stretch big from Serbia?

With Tristan Vukcevic struggling to get consistent playing time with Partizan Belgrade, the Washington Wizards opted to bring over the 2023 second-round pick sooner rather than later. 

2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

In an unconventional move, the Washington Wizards made a new signing in mid-March. Not something you see often generally in the NBA, but the timing is not the only unique aspect of this move. The Wizards signed 21-year-old Serbian stretch big Tristan Vukcevic from Partizan Belgrade. The Wizards selected Vukcevic with a mid-second-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. 

Vukcevic is the first player to leave a EuroLeague team and sign in the NBA after the trade deadline since the Brooklyn Nets signed Mike James from CSKA Moscow in April of 2021. The move is apt, given the situation Vukcevic was in with his former EuroLeague club, Partizan Belgrade. 

Vukcevic was playing nearly 20 minutes per game in Adriatic League play for Partizan and averaging 10.93 points per game and 3.57 rebounds per game on 54/44/80 shooting splits. But he’s only played in 14 of 22 games, and at this stage of his career though, regular Adriatic League minutes are the minimum for Vukcevic’s development and doesn’t pose a significant challenge. In EuroLeague play, Vukcevic has appeared in only 12 of 28 games and was playing less than 10 minutes per game in those appearances.

The Wizards wanted to create more opportunities for Tristan Vukcevic

Simply put, Vukcevic’s development was clearly not a priority for Partizan. Zeljko Obradovic’s team is focused on qualifying for the EuroLeague play-in tournament and thus, opted to give the bulk of big man minutes to Frank Kaminsky, Bruno Caboclo, Zach LeDay, and Alen Smailagic — proven EuroLeague veterans. 

Even with limited opportunities though, Vukcevic managed to flash what he’s capable of and the skills he’s got in his bag. Standing at 6-foot-10 and weighing 220 pounds, Vukcevic is agile and has great fluidity in his movement both with the ball and without it. He’s long, tall, and coordinated. Additionally, he’s got a sweet jump shot with a high-release. He’s shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc on 74 attempts across all competitions this season. He’s also comfortable attacking closeouts and putting the ball on the floor.

Joining a rebuilding franchise that will put more emphasis on his development makes sense for Vukcevic and makes sense for the Wizards. This is a move that will likely benefit both parties in the long run.

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