After last year’s first round playoff exit, Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic expressed uncertainty about whether he would return for the 2021-2022 season. Today at Trail Blazers Media Day 2021, he expressed his excitement for new head coach Chauncey Billups and the season ahead.
Nurkic said that he was “looking for a big year personally and for the team.” He cited head coach Chauncey Billups’ ability to hold players accountable — on defense and offense — as “the most exciting part” of this upcoming season.
His plan to hold people accountable is something we not necessarily have over the years. You have more passing and plan to play more team basketball. Not just too many iso-ball, even even if we have a luxury to do that.
Along with accountability, Nurkic said the defensive acumen Billups and new assistant coach Roy Rogers will translate into more success on the defensive end.
We’re going to be guaranteed better on defense and our offense was never the issue.
Nurkic said the summer for him “was unknown until we hired Chauncey.” Now with Billups at the helm — who Nurkic had a positive relationship with during his time in Denver — he’s looking forward to a bigger role this year.
I’m sure I’m going to be more involved with the ball and on offense and defense. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Nurkic said he’s at his best on the court “when he plays with an edge and is having fun.” He said the new coaching staff and offensive system will help get that swagger back, while maximizing his offensive talents.
The system with Chauncey is going to help utilize me more in scoring areas, but at the same time I’m going to make even more passes than I used to make. That might bring Dame or CJ two or three points less, but you’re going to have everybody else in a certain position where they’re gonna be happy.