One of the things that makes Jusuf Nurkic so tantalizing as a player is his youth and the potential that comes along with it. Nurkic is only 23 years old as he goes through his fourth NBA season. He’s gone from an unstable situation with the Denver Nuggets to a leading role with the Portland Trail Blazers. The big man isn’t without his faults (throwing up weak shots on post-ups, giving up easy turnovers), but this a player who only picked up the sport of basketball in his high school years. There’s plenty of time for him to be great.
Even playing catch-up, Nurkic has shown flashes of what he can grow into, like his 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 20 games with Portland last season. Even with numbers down from last year, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype still sees him as a top player under 25, slotting him at No. 25:
Thus far this season, his raw statistics are down all across the board. Nurkic is also shooting merely 45.4 percent from the floor – the third-lowest mark among centers playing at least 25 minutes per night.
What’s more, the only two big men with lower accuracy from the floor are Dirk Nowitzki and Marc Gasol, who both space the floor from beyond the arc, a luxury which Nurkic does not provide.
Even so, the Blazers are a better team with their starting center in the game. And he’s still just 23 years old; Nurkic’s best days remain ahead.
Other players on the list of 25 include Julius Randle (24), Clint Capela (13) and Nurkic’s former teammate Nikola Jokic (5).
Nurkic is currently averaging 14.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He has scoring outings of 29, 28, and 25 (x2), but he’s also had performances of eight (x2), six, and four. His rebounds range from a high of 15 to a low of two. For a young player, these ebbs and flows are common. And even the best of the best have off nights (looking at you, CJ McCollum).
Once Nurkic can put it all together, though, we may see the real Bosnian Beast—that is if the Blazers don’t decide to ship him off before then.