The Trail Blazers are still adjusting to life without Jusuf Nurkic (fibular fracture), but it hasn’t stopped the media from buzzing about the impact that the Bosnian big man has had on Portland. Micah Adams of ESPN recently sorted through the players who changed locations prior to the NBA Trade Deadline, and Nurkic managed to top Buddy Hield of the Kings on the list of “Biggest Risers.”
Stepping out from behind the shadow of Nikola Jokic in Denver, Nurkic has nearly doubled his scoring output after arriving in Portland. Adams points out that the strides the Blazers’ new center has made go beyond a simple increase in minutes.
He's far exceeded his per-minute production from Denver. His points, rebounds, blocks, assists and steals per 36 minutes are all up, while he's also elevated his true shooting percentage thanks to an uptick in both free-throw attempts and accuracy.
This uptick in production has placed Nurkic in elite company when it comes to his per 36 numbers.
He's one of just three players in the NBA -- along with Westbrook and Paul George -- to average more points, rebounds, blocks, assists and steals per 36 minutes after the All-Star break. If you took Nurkic's per 36 numbers in Portland and calculated a game score, it would be better than DeMarcus Cousins' over that same span. The leg injury aside, no player has benefited more from a change in scenery.
Nurkic isn’t the only one that has benefited from the trade. The Blazers reeled off 14 wins after inserting him in the rotation. That run of play catapulted Portland into a tight-race with Denver for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Portland’s run has been stalled since last Friday’s announcement of Nurkic’s injury, as Noah Vonleh and Meyers Leonard have struggled to fill the void caused by the Bosnian’s exit.
The Blazers will enter Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on a two-game losing streak with only four games remaining in the regular season.