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Jusuf Nurkic Makes Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA Players List

Portland’s center makes a leap into relevance courtesy of his play in the latter half of the 2016-17 season.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers has made the leap into off-season relevance, cracking’s Top 100 NBA Players List. Compiled by Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney, the list celebrates the best (or at least the top quarter) of the league’s elite and has become an annual summer fixture. Nurkic comes in number 69 in this year’s ranking.

Speaking of Nurkic, Golliver states:

With the possibility of a monster payday on the horizon, Nurkic approaches the final year of his rookie contract in “prove it” mode on numerous fronts: He must prove that he can stay healthy after missing 87 combined games over his first three seasons, he must prove that immaturity issues a thing of the past, he must prove that his late-season scoring surge is sustainable once he’s targeted by rival game plans, he must prove that his improved conditioning can help ease his turnover problems and foul trouble, and he must prove that he can be the full-time backline stopper for a decent defense. If he succeeds on most or all of those fronts, the Blazers should be on track for their most successful season of the post-LaMarcus Aldridge era.

Nurkic is sandwiched between Cody Zeller of the Charlotte Hornets at number 70 and Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers at 68. He’s just above famous names Dirk Nowitzki, Greg Monroe, and Dwight Howard, just below Derrick Favors, Marcin Gortat, and Pau Gasol.

Nurkic averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game following his trade to the Blazers in February.