The Trail Blazers’ have received an obvious boost from Jusuf Nurkic’s return to the floor. The Bosnian Beast’s dominance was on full display during Portland’s 140-135 victory over Memphis on Friday. In his return to competitive action, Nurkic notched 18 points, nine rebounds, six blocks and five assists.
That type of performance should not come as a surprise to Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey. Inside a feature from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Olshey detailed Nurkic’s vital contributions to the Blazers’ team structure.
“He’s become like the team-spirit animal,” said Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations. “Dame [Lillard] is Dame, and that’s just understood. Right. And CJ [McCollum] is CJ. They are much more stoic.”
Olshey furthered his point with a tennis comparison.
“But Nurk plays with his emotions on his sleeve. I use the tennis analogy: Dame and CJ are [Bjorn] Borg. They’re quiet assassins. Nurk is more Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe.”
The Blazers trio, now at full strength, took an important step towards pushing the Grizzlies for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference on Friday.
Outside of Olshey’s thoughts on Nurkic’s place with the Blazers, Shelburne’s expansive feature does a superb job of chronicling the big fella’s return to the floor after suffering a gruesome leg injury last year. You can read the full feature at ESPN.