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Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic leverages his way to success

Portland center Jusuf Nurkic’s size gives him an edge on both ends of the court.

NBA: Preseason-Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The MVP-caliber play of Damian Lillard has the Trail Blazers contending for the best record in the NBA. Along with Lillard, lumbering center Jusuf Nurkic continues to grow inside Portland’s system. While the Blazers’ bucket-getters provide a clear look at how they impact the game, choosing one aspect of how the big fella produces a favorable result is more subtle. Altering shots in the paint, out-muscling opponents, and freeing up shooters off screens are just a trio of ways that Nurkic dictates the action in a positive way. But which part of his game is the most crucial to Portland’s success?

For me, it is simple. It all comes down to him leveraging his size to the Blazers’ advantage. In an era of basketball that favors finesse, Nurkic’s willingness to overpower opponents stands out. Slender big men can still protect the rim by utilizing their athleticism, but few can rebound and screen like the Bosnian Beast. Portland’s screen-heavy offense deserves plenty of credit, but Nurkic’s 4.8 screen assists per game is impressive.

Outside of smothering defenders on screens, Nurkic uses his size to secure rebounds when he is out of position. On the offensive glass, he is one of the best at powering through box outs to corral missed shots. Through 18 games, Nurkic is averaging a career-best 4.0 offensive rebounds per game.

Do you agree that Nurkic’s ability to use his size to his advantage is the most important aspect of his game? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.