Jusuf Nurkic saved the Portland Trail Blazers season in 2017 with his “Nurk Fever” run. This year, he’s posting the same 15 points, 10 rebounds and almost two blocks as that memorable streak. ESPN took notice of his sustained play and ranked him 20th on its Top 25 NBA Players Under 25, his first appearance on this list.
Bobby Marks explains his reasoning for Nurkic’s placement:
Five years into his NBA career, Nurkic cracks the 25-under-25 list on his last chance. After signing a four-year, $48 million contract in 2018, Nurkic is having his best statistical season on both ends of the court. He ranks No. 7 among centers in win shares (6.64), No. 6 in RPM (4.02) among centers and No. 6 in defensive RPM (3.62) among all players.
Marks justifies the big man’s lower rank in comparison to others by questioning his shooting range; all the centers located above Nurkic on the list shoot the three ball consistently. Although he impacts the Blazers on a nightly basis, the stardom of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns and others push Nurkic down.