Jusuf Nurkic sat down with Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp after the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. The big man answered questions about his unique basketball background, Damian Lillard’s leadership, the team’s continuity, last year’s playoff sweep and more.
Sharp also asked Nurkic about his uptick in passing:
I’ve always had that in my game. It was about the system and how much ball I have in my hands. I feel like this year my coach and my teammates, they’ve allowed me to do that and make those [passing] decisions a little more. And moreso, I feel like with this team, everybody right now, we’re understanding what our roles are, and we accept that.
After responding to several questions about the playoff sweep and expectations for this year, the Blazers big man explained why Portland seems to be one of the few contenders having fun:
There’s a lot of guys misunderstanding their roles in the league. I think we’re one of the few teams where guys understand their role. And not only understand it, but accept it. Like they actually agree with the role. There’s a lot of NBA players [on other teams] who can hoop and do a lot of things, but sometimes for the good of the team, you just need to accept that role. It’s a team sport. You can’t just think about yourself. And that’s where it becomes a problem, when there’s young guys just coming in the league, and some guys don’t feel that way, and don’t want to sacrifice anything. For us, we’re on the same page.
Nurkic answers many more questions in the Q&A with Sharp, which you can read here.