Fresh off his final season in the EuroLeague where he won the MVP crown, Nemanja Bjelica left Fenerbahce for the NBA feeling confident as he prepared to face the worlds best.
However, the Serbian international found his first season with the Minnesota Timberwolves tough. He didn’t start a single game and only averaged 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 60 games played.
But the 28-year-old is keen to improve. Bjelica has revealed that he wants to finish his career in the NBA and admits that he found the going tough in his first season in Minnesota but he is ready for his second year.
“When I came, I was MVP of the EuroLeague,” he said to the Star Tribune. “But I needed to do something else here. I knew I belonged here, and I want to finish my career in the NBA. But I needed to change some things. I needed to work on my body. Now I’m ready. I put work in over the summer. I know what I can expect this year. I’m ready for the season, mentally and physically.”
His off-court work has caught the eye of head coach Tom Thibodeau, who said that Bjelica is working to adjust to the ever-changing pace of the NBA and also he recognises that the power forward role is becoming more and more versatile as the job of scoring inside, stretching to the mid-ranger and pulling down the rebound is just a small part of his game.
“He’s done a good job,” Thibodeau said. “He has that skill set as a power forward — our league has moved more toward that — to spread the floor. It adds another three-point shooter to the group. It’s not just his ability to shoot, it’s his ability to put it on the floor and make plays and be efficient.”