Jusuf Nurkic set imaginations on fire following his trade to the Portland Trail Blazers last February. As the 2017-18 NBA season looms, “Nurk Fever” is starting to catch fire again, and not just in Portland. The Sporting News has tabbed Nurkic as a “Player to Watch” in the coming season.
Prior to his injury, Nurkic averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals per game in a Blazers uniform. He’d join an impressive list of players if he can sustain those numbers over the course of entire season, one including Hall of Famers such as David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett. But even if he can’t sustain those same numbers, Nurkic still has the potential to break out for the Blazers because of what he brings to the table on both ends of the floor.
Acting as extra motivation is the contract extension he’ll be eligible for in the summer of 2018. With only 159 games played in his NBA career, Nurkic still has a lot to prove before a team like the Blazers commits a lot of money to him. A healthy and productive season would eliminate a lot of those concerns.
Nurkic stands on The Sporting News list alongside players like D’Angelo Russell, Myles Turner, Blake Griffin, and Skal Labissiere.