If Magic center Nik Vucevic wants to become a solid center, he is going to have to spend time in the weight room and looking at Dwight Howard video archives.

No surprise, the Magic miss Howard more on the defensive end than the offensive end.

Vucevic has the potential to be a consistent double-double performer.

But in Wednesday night’s lackluster loss to the 6-22 Hornets, center Robin Lopez scored 29 points, mostly on Vucevic, including his first six baskets.

I’ll just take a guess, but I don’t think Lopez would have 29 against Dwight.

Lopez entered the game averaging a career-high 11.6 points per game, and 5.6 rebounds.

“It’s the NBA,” Vucevic said. “Every player can get going on a night and that was part of the reason why he got going, because I didn’t play   well on defense and he got going. So obviously they went back to him and he kept scoring.”

Vucevic’s ineffectiveness kick-started a Hornets’ team that had lost 11 straight and reflected a poor defensive effort on the night for Orlando.

Of course, back in the day, if a guy like Lopez was on a hot streak, he’d get knocked on his wallet. Hard foul. Do something to throw him off his game.

Vucevic needs to get much tougher, more aggressive and stronger. He has a passive personality, so the coaches need to push him. If he had Gustavo Ayon’s motor and physical nature, he’d be angling to become one of the league’s best young centers.

Obviously, he’ll never be Howard, a three-time defensive player of the year. But Nik can be better than making Robin Lopez look like an all-star.

 

Brian Schmitz is the Magic Insider for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him at bschmitz@tribune.com. And you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@magicinsider.