As the trade deadline comes closer, the rumors begin to swirl, as does the punditry regarding who should be dealt. Dan Favale of Bleacher Report argues that for the Portland Trail Blazers, trading Jusuf Nurkic is the move to make.
Nurkic is the oddest man out. He remains valuable for his little flip shots, floor navigation out of high-ball screens and passing on short rolls and from standstills. He’s even improved his finishing around the hoop. But he seemed less than thrilled about his role last offseason, and now, Portland’s defense has marginalized his strengths.
According to Favale, his defense leaves something to be desired.
No team is more aggressive guarding pick-and-rolls, per BBall Index’s Krishna Narsu. Nurkic isn’t perfectly suited to defending at the level of the screen in the first place and is even more exposed in a Blazers system with limited bankability behind him. Opponents are shooting 71.6 percent against him at the rim—the league’s worst mark among 53 players who have challenged at least 110 point-blank opportunities.
Favale notes that Nurkic is currently on a team-friendly deal. That may not always be the case.
Portland’s defense has sniffed average when Nurkic plays. So...there’s that. But he’s not their long-term answer in the middle. They should deal him before he’s paid like one—or he leaves for nothing.
You can read the tea leaves for every team in the league here.