Nemanja Bjelica plays as a power forward for the Serbian national basketball team. He was drafted into the NBA in 2010, but before that the professional basketball player had played in various European countries to justify his experience and his appointment to the biggest basketball league in the world.
Nemanja’s versatility, which is one of his strongest skills, has brought him into the first team of the All-Euroleague and for his game in 2015 he has also received the Euroleague MVP award.
Nemanja Bjelica’s Bio
Nemanja was born on May 9, 1988, in Belgrade and began his career in 2007 with Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions, a basketball club in the Austrian league. He remained loyal to the team for only one season, after which he returned to his home country with Crvena Zvezda before the 2008-2009 season.
Bjelica’s game improved significantly during his two-year stay with the team, thanks mainly to his then coach Svetislav Pešic. This improvement in various aspects of his game – especially as an outside shooter and playmaker – led to him eventually fighting his way to the top, retaining a starring role, and also participating in the EuroCup.
The rise of Nemanja Bjelica finally caught the attention of the NBA. In the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft, he was voted 35th overall by the Washington Wizards. However, the team exchanged the rights to the player for the Minnesota Wolves, who handed him over to Spanish club Saski Baskonia in August 2010 under a five-year contract.
After an almost unforgettable first season with Saski, he got more playing time the following season and was able to exceed this until the third season. Here he scored an average of 9.9 points, 1.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds with 1 steal in the 26 matches he played in the campaign.
He moved to Turkey and signed a three-year contract with Fenerbahçe Ülker before the 2013-2014 season. Nemanja quickly became an integral part of the team’s starting line-up and achieved a career-high of 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 steals in his first season. The next season he exceeded this statistic with an average of 12.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals.
In this campaign, he helped Fenerbahçe reach the EuroLeague final of the last four for the first time in the team’s history. He was rewarded with the EuroLeague MVP prize and was appointed to the All-EuroLeague First Team. He decided to give up his third year at Fenerbahçe under his contract and return to his NBA mother club, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
From the substitutes’ bench, he immediately impressed with outstanding performances against players like the Sacramento Kings and the Chicago Bulls. On November 13, 2016, he was rewarded with his first start against the Los Angeles Lakers. In that game, he scored a career-high of 24 points when Minnesota won the game 125-99. In March 2017 he was disqualified for the rest of the season due to a scaphoid fracture of his left foot.
After another side trip to the sidelines, Nemanja Bjelica returned to the 2017-2018 season, where he achieved his personal best of 30 points in a game against the Boston Celtics.
The next step in his professional career was the signing of a contract with the Sacramento Kings. On July 21, 2018, he put a three-year contract worth $20.5 million on paper.
Nemanja has been representing Serbia at the international level since 2009. In his first year with the national team, he won the 2009 Summer Universiade and in the same year, the team also won silver at the EuroBasket Tournament. He also represented the team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, 2011, 2013, and 2015 EuroBasket Tournaments and the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Championship.
Nemanja Bjelica’s Wife
The nomadic character of Bjelica’s career means that he has never been in one country long enough to overcome his roots. Fortunately, he met his wife Mirjana before all the madness began. At that time he had just started his professional career in Austria.
At her first meeting in a restaurant in her home town Belgrade, Mirjana, who is 5 ft 9 inches tall, was not impressed by Nemanja at first. She even found him a bit silly. But in the course of the evening she warmed up for him, and when he asked for her number, she gave him her real number in an untypical way.
It wasn’t long before Mirjana quit her job and joined Nemanja, who was wandering around Europe in search of basketball fame. The couple married in June 2012 and they have a daughter, Nika, and a son, Stefan.
Height and Weight
As it turns out, Mirjana had a good reason to go crazy at Nemanja’s height. The Minnesota Timberwolves powerhouse stands at an almost alarming height of 2.08 m (6 ft 10 inches). He is also doing his best to keep his weight athletic. Nemanja weighs 106 kg (234 lb).