The Golden State Warriors are patiently navigating through the 2021 free agency period. Last night they signed the versatile, sweet shooting Otto Porter Jr. to a veteran’s minimum contract. This morning, they added another long-range bomber to the team with power forward Nemanja Bjelica, per a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Athletic’s Anthony Slater added that this contract is on a one-year veteran minimum.
The Warriors are signing Nemanja Bjelica on a one-year veteran minimum, sources confirm. Stretch big who should fit well next to Draymond Green. Still have full TPMLE.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) August 3, 2021
The Warriors have now signed two proven rotation-caliber players to minimum deals who'd been viewed as mid-level-type guys. Great start to free agency for Bob Myers and Co.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) August 3, 2021
Bjelica is a 33-year old, six year veteran from Serbia who was the Euroleague MVP in 2015. He spent his first three NBA years alongside Andrew Wiggins on the Minnesota Timberwolves. After that he spent 2 1⁄2 seasons in Sacramento, with his breakout season coming in 2019-2020 when he averaged career highs in scoring (11.5), rebounding (6.4), and assists (2.8). That season he shot just under 42% from downtown on 320 attempts.
There have only been ten players in NBA history 6-foot-10 or taller who have shot a percentage of .419 or better in a season (with at least 300 attempts). Bjelica is one of them, folks!
He was traded to Miami at the deadline last season, probably because he had lit them up like this in February:
Although he played sparingly in Miami, he did get some MVP chants during Game 3 of the Heat’s ill-fated playoff matchup with the champion Milwaukee Bucks. Per Hot Hot Hoops’ season review of Bjelica, he’s not scared to shoot the rock from deep:
Bjelica fit the similar mold to former Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, who was dealt along with Avery Bradley and a 2022 first-round pick swap for Victor Oladipo. Both were near 7-foot floor spacers with minimal playmaking and rebounding chops. Throughout his 11 games with the Heat, Bjelica attempted 27 3-pointers, knocking down 10 of them — equating to a 37.0 3-point percentage.
He wasn’t actively involved in the offense when he was on the floor, but when he was — he wasn’t afraid to let it fly.
He’s a career 38.7% shooter from beyond the arc and could definitely help the Warriors space the floor better. Remember that last year the Unanimous One Stephen Curry did all his damage with spacing that ranked at the bottom of the NBA. A stretch big like Bjelica could give Dub Nation flashbacks to a shooter like Marresse “Mo Buckets” Speights who bailed Golden State out in several key moments with his touch from long range.
Or maybe it ends up like the ill-fated Omri Casspi signing, a guy who could never quite find a rhythm in the Warriors offense.
Either way, it’s a great experiment with minimal cost that fills a major need this team had. They needed another big alongside Kevon Looney and James Wiseman, and one who can shoot provides excellent upside.
Are you happy with the Warriors getting Bjelica at the veteran’s minimum?
This poll is closed
Totally! He’s just what the doctor ordered
Absolutely not! This guy isn’t gonna be a difference maker