All-Decade head-2-head: Nikola Vujcic vs. Kyle Hines

Jun 11, 2020 by Print
All-Decade head-2-head: Nikola Vujcic vs. Kyle Hines

Though modern basketball has become increasingly dominated by perimeter players, elite centers always stand out. No big men have had as prolonged an impact at the highest levels of the EuroLeague as 2000-2010 All-EuroLeague center Nikola Vujcic and his 2010-2020 counterpart Kyle Hines.

Their playing styles had little in common. At 2.11 meters, Vujcic used his exceptional court vision and passing ability to highlight a full array of offensive skills that made him one of the most productive centers in competition history. Hines's calling card was defense and at 1.98 meters tall, he changed how the position was played. His muscular frame, great athleticism and leaping ability allowed Hines to challenge players who were taller than him as well as perimeter players on switches.

Vujcic made his EuroLeague debut in the fall of 2001 with Maccabi Tel Aviv, however, a logjam at center led to him being sent on loan to ASVEL Villeurbanne, where he shined with 18.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 12 games. He then returned to Maccabi for six seasons, during which he led the Israeli champs to four championship game appearances and the famous back-to-back EuroLeague crowns in 2004 and 2005. While with Maccabi, Vujcic authored two of the three triple-doubles ever registered in the competition. His next stop was Olympiacos Piraeus, with which he played in two more Final Fours to close the decade.

Hines, who started his career in the Italian second-division with Prima Veroli, got his first taste of the EuroLeague in 2010-11 with Brose Bamberg, where he scored a career-high 12.9 points and added 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 10 games. The never-ending hustle Hines played with and blue-collar work-ethic he displayed led to a move to Olympiacos. His playing style was a perfect fit for the Reds, whose never-say-die spirit led to incredible championship-game comebacks and back-to-back EuroLeague titles in 2012 and 2013. CSKA Moscow signed Hines and he became a force for the Muscovites for the next seven seasons, leading to the team to every remaining Final Four that decade and EuroLeague trophies in 2016 and 2019. Among his record-tying eight consecutive trips to Final Fours, Hines's teams were 4-0 in championship games.

As the respective centers on the only two were 4-0 in championship teams to win back-to-back EuroLeague titles since the turn of the century, the importance of Vujcic and Hines to their teams is obvious. However, they were also recognized for their individual efforts. Vujcic's five selections to the All-EuroLeague Team are the most by any center in competition history. Hines was named EuroLeague Best Defender in 2016 and 2018 and is one of only three players to be awarded that trophy on multiple occasions.