The Minnesota Timberwolves officially introduced their newest member on Wednesday. Five years after Nemanja Bjelica was drafted into the NBA, the Wolves finally announced his signing on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-10 Serbian forward spent the last five years refining his game in Europe and now Wolves coach and president Flip Saunders says Bjelica comes to the NBA with a chance to make an impact.
Bjelica was the European Basketball League MVP last season – averaging nearly 12 points and eight rebounds a game. He also shot better than 50 percent from the floor.
The Wolves originally acquired the big man in a draft-day trade with the Washington Wizards in 2010. But Saunders officially signed the 27-year-old last month, noting the Bjelica had really worked to improve in that time.
"To his credit, with what he's been able to do these last five years in developing his game, he's put himself in a situation to not only come to the NBA, but to have a huge impact within the NBA and within our organization," Saunders told reporters.
With his height, most would think Bjelica would probably fit in as a stretch four. But according to the Star Tribune, Saunders says not to pigeonhole him.
"The big thing is he's different than our players," Saunders tells the newspaper. "He can handle the basketball, he can shoot the three. He can move around the floor, run pick and rolls. We don't have anyone with his size who can do that."
Bjelica will wear No. 88 for the Wolves – a number no other member of the team has ever worn. FOX Sports Net reports that while no reason for the number was given, the number Bjelica wore in Europe, No. 8, is already being worn by Zach LaVine.