The NBA free agent class of 2018 is a gold mine of star power. While eyes across the league will be focused squarely on Kevin Durant and LeBron James, the Portland Trail Blazers have a top free agent of their own to worry about. Jusuf Nurkic is not putting up the same numbers this season as he did in his short burst with Portland after being acquired from Denver last season. Still, he’s a 23-year-old, seven-foot center averaging 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks a game. As HoopsHype details in their Ranking of Top 2018 NBA Free Agents, that still matters.
HoopsHype ranked Nurkic as the 23rd most desirable target, scoring between Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets and Elfrid Payton of the Phoenix Suns. He’s above the Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Celtics guard Marcus Smart, below Enes Kanter of the Knicks and Clippers guard Avery Bradley.
Nurkic’s status as a restricted free agent could hurt his relative ranking, as a much older center putting up worse numbers in Brook Lopez ended up at 20. Nurkic is the fifth-ranked center in the list.
Several players in Portland’s orbit made the list. Spark plug Will Barton ranked above Nurkic at 21, perennial Blazers target Greg Monroe is at 32, and beloved former Portland guard Wesley Matthews sits at 33.