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Zach Lowe Puts Trail Blazers Center Jusuf Nurkic on the Naughty List

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A prominent analyst says Portland’s center is playing too small.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic got taken to task in the latest edition of Zach Lowe’s “10 Thinks I Like (and Don’t Like) About the NBA” column. The ESPN analyst put Nurkic on blast for a failed post opportunity against Houston Rockets guard James Harden in a recent loss, citing it as an example of an ongoing issue.

After showing the video and referencing “disgust radiating off of Portland’s bench” at the play, Lowe diagnoses the problem:

Nurkic is a giant, balletic post player. Why turn to face Harden? Just back your ass into him until he’s under the rim, or the Rockets send an urgent double-team.

This has been a weird trend for Nurkic this season. He’s averaging 0.46 points per possession on post-ups against guards, per Second Spectrum. He has coughed the ball up on 31 percent of those possessions, a number that would rank dead last among all players who post up with any regularity.

Lowe is quick to add that the sample size on Nurkic this season is small: 19 such plays total. But he still characterizes Portland’s center as a finesse scorer in a power man’s frame.

Lowe’s column also looks at the resurgence of Karl-Anthony Towns, Donovan Mitchell’s tunnel vision, and Zaza Pachulia’s underrated unselfishness.