Nemanja Bjelica
(Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nemanja Bjelica Has Been a Value Add for the Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors are 11-1 so far this season. I doubt anyone expected them to be so good just a season after losing two play-in games and two seasons removed from having the worst record in the entire league. With Klay Thompson and James Wiseman out with no timetable to return, Golden State needed their cast of role players to step up. And step up they have.

There have been a few Warriors who have played above expectations. Jordan Poole is turning in a nice year so far, averaging 17.8 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Andrew Wiggins has looked good as well, posting 17.4 points on 47.3% shooting from the field and a respectable 35.1% from three. However, if you want to look at unheralded role players, look no further than 33-year-old Nemanja Bjelica.

Bjelica was signed this offseason to a one-year minimum deal. He has traditionally been viewed as a stretch forward who can be a reliable bench piece for a good team or a decent starter for a bad one. This season, he is giving Golden State a ton of value for very little money.

Nemanja Bjelica Has Been Exceptionally Valuable

Through 12 games, Nemanja Bjelica is second in the NBA in plus-minus, only behind star teammate Steph Curry. That’s even despite seeing the fewest minutes per game of any season in his career. Plus-minus isn’t an ironclad stat but generally speaking, good things are happening when Bjelica is on the floor. His Per 36 stats are extremely telling – he averages 17.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per 36 minutes. Those marks rank first, first, and second respectively for all seasons in his career.

Bjelica is also hitting shots with career-best efficiency. He is shooting 55.6% from the field and 52.2% from three, both career highs. His 66.7% Effective Field Goal percentage is on pace to clear his previous career high by over 80 points. Golden State’s success can certainly be attributed to Steph Curry or the emergence of Jordan Poole, but Bjelica deserves a ton of credit for being about as good as a player in his role could possibly be.


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