Some players seek to gain an advantage through power. Others might do so through speed or technical wizardry. And some give themselves an edge over their opponents primarily through thinking – that elusive mental ability to find space in congested areas, always somehow seeming to be in the right place at the right time. One effective example of the merits of positional play is FC Bayern Munich forward Vladimir Lucic.
Throughout seven seasons in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague – plus another four in the 7DAYS EuroCup – Lucic has been a consistent, versatile and highly successful performer. After starting a decade ago with Partizan Belgrade and winning four Adriatic League titles, Lucic moved to Valencia Basket in 2013 and helped his new team become EuroCup champion. In 2016 he headed to Munich, where two more national titles and a domestic cup have followed. That adds up to an impressive haul of silverware and Lucic’s quiet efficiency has made him an integral member of all those teams.
The 30-year old’s specific area of expertise is working the baseline. He generally starts in the corner in set offenses, but then uses his positional nous to sniff out space, in turn allowing him to exploit his powerful 2.04-meter frame and smooth shooting stroke by delivering a range of scoring shots. Lucic’s baseline brilliance was fully demonstrated when Bayern hosted future champion CSKA Moscow in Round 7 of the 2018-19 season. Early in the game, he escaped the attention of Will Clyburn by running underneath the basket as the play developed on the perimeter, before making a perfectly timed cut back to the basket to receive a pass from Danilo Barthel, then showing his physicality by withstanding a challenge from Alec Peters and scoring off the glass. A few minutes later, Lucic again displayed his great sense of timing by cutting along the baseline from the left corner to receive a bounce pass from Leon Radosevic, before also having the poise and balance to finish well with a reverse layup as he was fouled by Kyle Hines. Before the interval, the Serbian’s scoring range was evident as he received a pass in the right corner and made a short dribble before pulling up to send a jump shot over Semen Antonov. And in the second half, Lucic settled into his usual position in the right corner, was picked out by a no-look pass from Nihad Dedovic and had no hesitation in shooting a perfect three-point strike over Cory Higgins. Lucic’s long-range shooting accuracy is one of his strongest qualities – he has made 36.4% of shots from beyond the arc for his career and converted a personal best 42.6% of three-pointers in the curtailed 2019-20 season.
That quartet of baskets against top-quality opposition shows how Lucic uses a combination of positional awareness, physicality and an impressive shooting range to patrol the baseline, helping to explain why he has been one of the league’s most consistent unsung heroes over the course of the last decade.