Jusuf Nurkic, of the Portland Trailblazers, announced that he will return to the court March 15th against the Rockets, nearly a year after suffering one of the most horrific leg injuries in NBA history against the Brooklyn Nets.
He will try to help the Blazers slip into a playoff spot as they are only 3.5 games back of the 8th spot with 19 games remaining on their schedule.
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Nurkic, the Bosnian Beast, was literally a beast before he was injured. He was a dominating presence in the paint, arguably one of the top 10-centers in the league at the time. He’s an integral part of the Blazers’ core and should be a great boost for Portland’s playoff hopes.
Hassan Whiteside was brought over in the summer, and he has exceeded expectations in terms of performance, but Nurkic just brings another element to the Blazers team offensively. At 7-feet and 275 pounds, Nurkic brings sheer strength and a strong, intimidating inside-game that will help the team score in the paint. He had been averaging 15.6pts 10.4reb 3.2ast and 1.4 blocks in 72 games before he got injured.
Portland’s offence had taken a big hit with his absence, sitting 10th in the league with a 111.6 offensive rating while they were 4th in the league last year with a 113.3 offensive rating before Nurkic was injured. Their defence should also improve as the team is currently sitting 27th in the league with a 113.3 defensive rating while they had a much better 109.6 defensive rating before his injury last season (NBA). Nurkic helps improve the team in numerous categories and brings a big-man presence Portland sorely needs.
It will be interesting to see how the team will split minutes between Nurkic and Whiteside and how the coach will integrate both into a system where they will both thrive. Expect to see Nurkic on a huge-minutes restriction to ease him back into action, but he should take over the starting spot when the playoffs get very close.
Portland will be getting a beast of a player which will significantly increase their chances of grabbing the 8th seed over Memphis and potentially play the Lakers in the first round.