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Jusuf Nurkic Cites Conditioning, Off-Season Issues in Poor Start

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Jason Quick of The Athletic explains that Portland’s center isn’t in shape yet, and there may be good reasons for that.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic has not been playing up to his usual standard so far this season. He broke out a bit tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves, scoring 17 points on 8-10 shooting. After the game, he also told The Athletic’s Jason Quick that off-season concerns kept him from entering the year in his usual physical and mental state.

Quick tweeted the explanation from Nurkic:

Nurkic has averaged 9.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game on 45.3% shooting so far this season. Those numbers are far off of his 15.6 point, 10.4 rebound, 50.8% shooting rates from the 2018-19 season, the last time he played consistently. His per-minute production is down, as are minutes played and shots attempted.

Nurkic broke his leg in March of 2019 and has played a total of 15 regular-season games since. When he was injured, he was considered a solid part of Portland’s Big Three and one of the bright, young centers in the league.

Update:

Casey Holdahl of the Trail Blazers adds this quote: