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Jusuf Nurkic Part of Loaded Free-Agent Center Class in the Summer of 2018

HoopsHype breaks down 2018’s free-agent centers with Nurkic firmly in the middle.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The class of free-agent centers this summer is full of big names, and Portland Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic will find himself trying to get paid just like the rest of them. After Nurk was ushered out Denver he went on a blazing 20-game stretch, proving his value to the Blazers—and possibly to other teams, too.

But, the big man hasn’t shown his magic consistently enough this season to make him a lock for a big payday. He will still draw interest in free agency, with his combination of youth and potential, but HoopsHype shows the crowded market he’s part of:

1. DeMarcus Cousins

Unrestricted / Center / 6-11 / Team: New Orleans Pelicans

25.9 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 5.0 apg

The most dominant big man in the league who has improved his maturity. DeMarcus Cousins’ newfound consistency is helping take his game to the next level.

2. DeAndre Jordan

Player Option / Center / 6-11 / Team: Los Angeles Clippers

11.9 ppg, 15.1 rpg

One of the NBA’s best rebounders, DeAndre Jordan can make any defense elite merely with his presence down low.

3. Clint Capela

Restricted / Center / 6-10 / Team: Houston Rockets

14.2 ppg, 11.1 rpg

Clint Capela has become one of the most efficient players in the NBA. He understands his limitations and plays to his strengths extremely well.

4. Enes Kanter

Player Option / Center / 6-11 / Team: New York Knicks

13.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg

Excellent rebounder and finisher near the rim. His defensive shortcomings prevent him from making a bigger impact.

5. Brook Lopez

Unrestricted / Center / 7-0 / Team: Los Angeles Lakers

12.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg

A seven-footer with serious range, Brook Lopez can space the floor quite well for a player of his size.

6. Greg Monroe

Unrestricted / Center / 6-11 / Team: Phoenix Suns

10.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg

A beast in the low post with strong rebounding chops. Can still get buckets off the bench.

7. Jusuf Nurkic

Restricted / Center / 6-11 / Team: Portland Trail Blazers

14.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg

A bruising center with some passing chops, Jusuf Nurkic greatly improved his play as a member of the Blazers.

Dewayne Dedmon, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor round out 10 examples of free-agent centers.

While the order is not intended as rankings, they make sense. Cousins is an All-Star and proven to be one of the best centers in the league. Jordan and Capela make up a strong second tier of athletic big men who gobble up rebounds; Kanter, Lopez and Monroe slot in the third tier as the proven veterans.

Nurkic is a wildcard. He sometimes looks like a franchise center, and other nights he’s just one of many contributors. But he has youth on his side only being 23 years old. A team could bet the bank on his development and come out the winner, while Noel and Okafor both have youth but have shown much less skill in the NBA.

How would you rank the centers? Where would Nurkic fit? What teams might pursue him? Let us know in the comments.