Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic suffered a compound fracture in his left leg in the second overtime of Portland’s victory Monday over the Brooklyn Nets. Nurkic is out indefinitely and will miss the rest of the season.
The Ringer’s Paolo Uggetti wrote about how the injury has debilitated Portland’s chances at surviving in the playoffs, which the Blazers clinched an appearance in with their Monday victory. Ugetti points out that most likely Enes Kanter and Zach Collins will have to step up for Portland, but that it’s not ideal:
Head coach Terry Stotts doesn’t seem to have any promising backup plans in his pocket. The team added Enes Kanter on the buyout market earlier this season, but he’s more suited to being memed than he is to become a consistent two-way big. In 15 appearances so far, Kanter is averaging 10.4 points on 54.1 percent shooting and 7.1 rebounds, but Portland’s defensive rating improves by nearly eight points when he’s off the floor. Billy Donovan has already warned us: come playoff time, you Can’t. Play. Kanter. Stotts might have to, though, unless he’s willing to suddenly boost Zach Collins’s minutes from a paltry 17.5 a game. Collins is a second-year player who came into the league with a lot of upside but has only showed enough flashes to be more of a theoretically successful modern big than any sure thing (his per-36 numbers include a decent 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds, but also 4.9 fouls), much less one Stotts can rely on in the postseason. But now it may be time to take the training wheels off.
You can read the rest of Uggetti’s reflection here.
Who do you think will rise to the occasion in Nurkic’s absence? Let us know in the comments.