Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic has enjoyed a particularly successful string of games recently, highlighted by his historic 5x5 against the Kings. The recent play has built upon a strong season already from the big man, who’s established himself as a steady and capable force to run the offense through.
Mike Tokito of Forbes points to Nurkic using his size advantage as one key to his recent play:
His historic game in Sacramento came against a team with a center, Willie Cauley-Stein, who weighs about 30 pounds less than Nurkic. In three games this season against Golden State, which has been starting 6-9, 220-pound Kevon Looney at center, Nurkic is averaging 23.3 points and shooting 55.3 percent from the field.
Nurkic’s strength has been a major factor in him averaging 3.6 offensive rebounds, tied for No. 7 in the NBA, which has led to 3.8 second-chance points per game. Both are on pace to be career highs for a season.
Second, Tokito looks at how Nurkic’s first-quarter point totals help the Blazers’ offense:
In the five 20-point games Nurkic has had since Dec. 8, the Blazers have gotten him going early. Three times, he has gotten eight points or more in the first quarter, with the Blazers turning more and more to posting Nurkic up in the way coach Terry Stotts used to with All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Nurkic is currently averaging a career-high in both points (14.7 per game) and rebounds (10.5 per game).
You can read more from Tokito’s breakdown of Nurkic here.