Every player who makes it to the NBA has talent. Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic stands at seven feet, has a reasonably good jump shot, and can spin in the post fast as a whip. As Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight points out, the Bosnian standout has one other bona fide skill: getting his face whacked. Nurkic accounts for almost 10% of flagrant fouls drawn in the NBA this season, all by himself. If the current rate continues, he will dethrone Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who owns the top six spots on the “most flagrant fouls drawn by percentage” list for the past two decades.
After interviewing Nurkic on the subject, Herring has a basic explanation for the big man’s propensity for drawing chop shots:
He’s often sitting in the area of the floor where players are most likely to use brute force in order to gain a scoring or rebounding advantage. As a result, he’s caught more than his fair share of stray elbows when standing that close to the basket.
He doesn’t downplay Nurkic’s potential as a budding thespian, though.
While Nurkic denied embellishing contact during our conversation — “Hopefully the referees see it all, because I’m not faking,” he said — instant replay makes it clear that he occasionally baits refs into thinking he’s been hit.
Herring also records Nurkic’s own explanation:
“People know what I bring to the table and try to slow me down. I’m not saying they always do it on purpose, but it’s happened like that before”
There’s much more to the article and to Nurkic’s thoughts on the subject.