Little did Nikola Vucevic know he was studying the man he eventually would replace.
When Vucevic came to Simi Valley, Calif., from Montenegro in 2007 at the age of 17, he began watching Orlando Magic games on TV. That continued after he enrolled in 2008 at Southern California for what would be a three-year stint.
I watched Dwight Howard, Vucevic said. Hes one of the best rebounders. Obviously, I studied the way he rebounds. I feel like hes always in position to rebound.
Those lessons have helped Vucevic, who is now with the Magic. Lately, he has been rebounding in a similar fashion to Howard, the guy he replaced as the starting center, arriving in a four-team deal that featured Howard being sent last August to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Over his past 15 games, the 7-foot Vucevic has averaged 14.1 rebounds to raise his average to 11.0. If Vucevic can keep up this pace, which included an incredible 29-rebound game Dec. 31 against the Miami Heat, he has a shot at being a second straig...