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The Pressure Is On For Jusuf Nurkic

A larger role in 2018-19 means more responsibility for Portland’s young center, writes Dan Favale of Bleacher Report.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers-Media Day Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

If the Trail Blazers had a big three, it would presumably be Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and their young big man, Jusuf Nurkic.

The two guards have more than proven their stardom in the NBA and now it’s time for Nurkic to do the same. After an ugly series against New Orleans last year, that could be hard to accomplish, according to Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale:

Portland was a special kind of slaughtered with Nurkic on the court. The Pelicans averaged a blistering 1.12 points per possession whenever he defended Anthony Davis. They inflicted similar harm upon the Blazers on the rare occasions he matched up with Brow.

While the pressure to matchup with small-ball lineups does pose a threat to his usage late in games, Favale sees the departure of Ed Davis as a good thing for Nurkic’s season outlook. With more playing time up for grabs, he could be poised to raise his minutes per game up from 26.4 last year. When playing 30 minutes or more in 2017-18, Nurkic’s stat line spiked up to 18.4 PPG and 11.2 RPG.

Nurkic has all the skills and opportunity to have a breakout year in 2018-19, but his true impact will be determined by his ability to adapt against more agile big men when it matters most.

Favale’s entire pressure-packed list can be seen over at Bleacher Report.