When the Trail Blazers took to the court to face the Orlando Magic, two players were new to the lineup as Jusuf Nurkic marked his return from a wrist fracture and Normal Powell arrived following a trade with the Toronto Raptors. Jason Quick of the Athletic points out that both players made their mark in the performance against the Magic. Nurkic mentioned that he wanted to bring more aggressiveness to his defense, and he recognized the role he plays on that end of the court.
“I’m a big part of our defense, (and) where we want to go,” Nurkic said. “I think I can change it again (like 2017). Obviously, coach gives us freedom, but with (associate head coach and defensive coordinator) Nate Tibbetts and the assistant coaches, I think we can figure out something that we get better for the second half of the season defensively. Because we have the assets to do that. I just think (we’ve) become a little bit lazy and not doing communication right. Because we talk about the defense. But we got to do something about it. So I really try to step with a voice, and for example, to do it on my own. We have pieces to be a really good defensive team, but we need action and effort to do it.”
As for Powell, it seems that he will be a great fit with the chemistry and culture of the Portland Trail Blazers, as he characterizes himself as a “gym rat.”
“It’s a lifestyle,” Powell said. “Kind of like Kobe’s Mamba mentality. It’s all about dedicating yourself to your goal, working through … obstacles, hard times, challenges … to reach that. Understanding what it takes to sacrifice, the commitment, dedicating yourself to the goal and always trying to figure out a way to achieve that. It’s become who I am, and I think that speaks to me as a person, my character. That no matter what is going on on the court, or my life, I’m always going to continue to work to get better to reach goals I have set for myself.
“Hopefully I will be able to instill that into the team, the city and fans of Portland,” Powell said. “You are getting a hard working, committed player that leave it all on the floor, and is going to work through anything to achieve that goal.”
While Powell noted that he has yet to learn the intricacies of Coach Terry Stotts’ playbook, he did appear to be a good fit within the motion offense.
“The way the offense is set up, the way they move the ball and play off one another, it felt really easy to get into the flow and find different spots,” Powell said. “So I think I fit perfectly into what they are doing.”
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