The preseason will not begin for another two months, but some NBA analysts are already bullish on Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic.
In the third part of a seven-part series, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com selected Nurkic as one of six potential candidates to earn the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in the 2017-18 season.
It was a deal that helped both teams when the Nuggets sent Nurkic to Portland. Denver had to make room for Nikola Jokic to play, but the Blazers hit it big by securing their tentpole for the middle. Nurkic is the perfect complement for the high-scoring backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and is also a great passer.
Nurkic shares the list with some big names, including Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks.
In twenty games with the Blazers, Nurkic averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds before a leg injury cut his year short. He only managed to play in one playoff game, but is expected to be fully healthy when the Blazers start the preseason against the Phoenix Suns on October 3.