Nemanja Bjelica plays as a power forward for the Serbian national basketball team. He got drafted into the NBA in 2010 but before then, the pro basketballer had played in various countries across Europe to justify his experience and his call-up to the biggest basketball league on the planet.
Nemanja’s versatility, which is one of his strongest skills, have seen him make the All-Euroleague First Team and also receive the Euroleague MVP award for his play in 2015.
Nemanja Bjelica’s Bio
Born on May 9, 1988, in Belgrade, Nemanja started his career with Austrian League basketball outfit, Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions in 2007. He stayed with the team for just one season after which he returned to his home country with Crvena Zvezda ahead of the 2008-2009 season.
Bjelica’s game improved significantly during his two-year stay with the team and he credits this majorly to his coach at the time, Svetislav Pešić. This improvement in various aspects of his play – especially as an outside shooter and a playmaker – saw him eventually fight his way to the top and hold down a starting role as well as participate in the EuroCup.
Nemanja Bjelica’s rise finally caught the attention of the NBA. He was selected 35th overall in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards. However, the team traded the rights to the player to the Minnesota Wolves who in turn let him go to Spanish outfit Saski Baskonia on a five-year deal in August 2010.
After an almost forgettable first season with Saski, he got more playing time the following season and bettered that by the third season. Here, he averaged 9.9 points, 1.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds with 1 steal for the 26 games he played in the campaign.
He moved on to Turkey, signing a three-year contract with Fenerbahçe Ülker ahead of the 2013-2014 season. Nemanja quickly became an integral part of the team’s starting lineup and posted career highs stats of 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 steals in his first campaign. He bettered this the next season with averages of 12.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals.
It was in this campaign that he helped push Fenerbahçe to the EuroLeague Final Four for the first time in the team’s history. He was rewarded with the EuroLeague’s MVP Award and was called up to the All-EuroLeague First Team. He opted to forgo the third year with Fenerbahçe as per his contract and return to his NBA parent club, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He immediately began to impress with stellar performances from the bench against the likes of Sacramento Kings and the Chicago Bulls. He was then rewarded with his first start against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 13, 2016. In this game, he hit a career-high 24 points as Minnesota went on to win the game 125-99. In March 2017, a left foot navicular bone fracture saw him sit out the rest of the campaign.
After another stint on the sidelines, Nemanja Bjelica returned for the 2017-2018 season where he hit a personal-best 30 points in a game against the Boston Celtics.
The next stop on his professional career saw Nemanja sign with the Sacramento Kings. He put pen to paper on a three-year deal worth $20.5 million on July 21, 2018.
Nemanja has represented Serbia since 2009 on the international level. In his first year with the national team, he won the 2009 Summer Universiade. The team also clinched silver honors at the EuroBasket tournament in the same year. He also turned out for the team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, EuroBasket 2011, 2013 and 2015, and the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Nemanja Bjelica’s Wife
The nomadic nature of Bjelica’s career means he has never been in any one country long enough to out down his roots. Thankfully, he met his wife, Mirjana before all the madness began. At the time he had just started his professional career in Austria.
On their first meeting, at a restaurant in their hometown of Belgrade, Mirjana, who is 5 ft 9 inches wasn’t impressed with Nemanja initially. In fact, she thought him a little goofy. However, as the night wore on, she warmed up to him and when he asked for her number, she uncharacteristically gave him her real number.
It wasn’t long before Mirjana quit her job and joined Nemanja as he moved around Europe in search of basketball glory. The couple got married in June 2012, and they have a daughter, Nika, and a son, Stefan.
Height and Weight
It turns out Mirjana had good reason to be freaked out at Nemanja’s height. The Minnesota Timberwolves power forward stands at an almost disturbing height of 6 ft 10 inches (2.08 m). He also does his best to keep his weight athletic. Nemanja weighs in at 106 kg (234 lb).