Missed Trail Blazers Media Day on Monday? We’ve got you covered. The season is nearly upon us and there is a lot to look forward to. Here are five things we learned at Media Day that have us excited for opening night.
Jusuf Nurkic Feels Better Than Ever
Nurk confirmed that he has indeed dropped 34-35 pounds and is now down to 270, but is still incredibly strong. We’re going to see a sleeker, faster Nurkic in his self-described “best shape of his life,” no longer winded in the second quarter. We may even see him play a little outside. He said that he always works on his 3-point shot and will shoot it if that’s what the team needs from him.
Caleb Swanigan Is Turning Heads
Interestingly, each player who identified a teammate that impressed them brought up rookie forward Caleb Swanigan. He initially made it onto scouting radars with his work ethic, discipline, and eventually dominance, which we saw carry into Las Vegas Summer League. It appears his teammates have taken notice in practice, and he could make a splash sooner than later, given the right opportunity.
There Is A New Wrinkle in the Offense
The Trail Blazers haven’t really had a threatening post presence since LaMarcus Aldridge, so the fact that head coach Terry Stotts wants to try dumping the ball to Nurkic early and often is exciting. Now, the offense won’t exclusively run through him or anything, but man, finally being able to take more pressure off Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum could make them even deadlier.
Players Are Finally Fully Healthy
No shoulder injury for Ed Davis. No back injury for Meyers Leonard. No leg injury for Nurkic. No hand injury for Evan Turner. No calf injury for Al-Farouq Aminu. For the most part and for the time being, the Trail Blazers have a clean bill of health and are ready to come out hot, with the exception of Noah Vonleh, who will likely miss the first two weeks of the season with a right shoulder strain.
Competition Among Peers Could Heat Up
Even with Vonleh temporarily sidelined, there are plenty of options at power forward; so many that Stotts wants Aminu to go back to playing more small forward, which creates a few more question marks for Turner and Maurice Harkless. If you play for the Trail Blazers and any part of your job title has “forward” in it, you’re going to have to earn your spot. That internal pressure could forge a few diamonds.
For more complete thoughts, check out the next episode of the Blazer’s Edge Podcast with Tara, later today. What has you most excited for this Trail Blazers team?