Weight: 260 pounds
Vlade Divac was born in the country formerly known as Yugoslavia on February 3, 1968. Divac was one of the first players from Eastern Europe to enjoy success in the NBA. His success paved the way for players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Toni Kukoc, and Peja Stojakovic.
Divac was picked 26th in the 1989 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Divac was never a fan favorite in Los Angeles, because he had the unenviable task of replacing the just-retired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Divac struggled in his first two seasons in L.A., and was injured for most of his third season, but by 1994, his fifth season, Divac had come into his own. In 1994, he averaged 14 points, nearly 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. In 1995, he was even better, averaging 16, 10, and 4.
However, the Lakers were not getting much done in the playoffs, and decided in 1996 to break up the existing team, built around Divac and Elden Campbell up front, and Nick Van Exel and a young Eddie Jones in the backcourt. Divac was the first to go, shipped to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to high-school phenom Kobe Bryant. A week after Divac was traded, the Lakers inked free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal to a 7-year deal, and basically built their current dynasty in one fell swoop.
Divac was an important contributor to a Charlotte team that made surprising playoff runs in 1997 and 1998. After the 1998 season, he signed a free-agent deal with the Sacramento Kings, and in 1999 enjoyed one of his finest seasons, with averages of 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. The emergence of Chris Webber as a superstar reduced Divac's shots and minutes, but he is still good for 12 points and 8 rebounds in any given season.
Divac is an accomplished offensive player. He has excellent range on his jump shot, and can even knock down the occasional three. His most effective post move is a hook shot. For a big man, Divac is an excellent passer. He has recorded over 300 assists in a season three times. Divac is only an average defender. Earlier in his career he was a capable shotblocker, but no longer has the lift in his legs to do much damage. Divac is a useful component of a winning team, as few big men have his offensive skills and court vision, but he has a puzzling tendency to disappear, especially during big games.