What to expect: Nurkic debuts with Blazers tonight

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Jusuf Nurkic, the 7-foot, 280-pound center acquired three days ago by the Portland Trail Blazers, will make his first appearance for the Blazers on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

The game tips off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast by KGW.

On Tuesday, Nurkic tweeted about the start of his tenure with the Blazers.

Nurkic arrived in Portland Monday, but did not play in that night's loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said he's looking forward to utilizing the team's new center.

"He's a good young player. I think he had some good moments in Denver and obviously got out of the rotation. But he's got good hands, he's a very good rebounder. He is a skill player, and he's only 22, with a lot of room to improve," Stotts told the Associated Press. "So I'm looking forward to getting him acclimated with our system and how we play."

Nurkic averaged 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game with the Denver Nuggets prior to Sunday's trade. He has averaged 7.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 17.7 minutes per game over the first two-plus seasons of his career.

At the start of this season, Denver looked to incorporate both Nikola Jokic and Nurkic into a big starting lineup. But the experiment didn't work and Nurkic fell out of the starting lineup and the rotation. In the last 16 games with the Nuggets, Nurkic sat out four games and averaged about 14 minutes per game.

Stotts didn't say whether Nurkic will start tonight or how many minutes he will play. Nurkic said he would be fine starting or coming off the bench.

"I think (Portland is) the perfect place for me," he told the AP. "They need me and I need them."

Scouting report

Jusuf Nurkic

Height: 7-0
Weight: 280
Age: 22

Strengths

  • Size: At 7-foot, 280 pounds, Nurkic is a big target inside on offense and a big deterrent in the paint on defense.
  • Athleticism: For his size, Nurkic is surprisingly mobile.
  • Defense: Nurkic moves around well in the paint, shows good footwork and is able to block and alter shots.
  • Offensive rebounding: Nurkic has averaged 4.1 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes over his career. The leader in offensive rebounds this season is Dwight Howard, who averages 4.2 offensive rebounds per game.

Weaknesses

  • Free-throw shooting: Nurkic has shot 58.4 percent from the line during his career and 49.6 percent this season.
  • Foul trouble: Aggressiveness often leads to foul trouble (career averages of 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes)
  • Interior offensive efficiency: Nurkic has shot 56 percent inside of 3 feet in his career. By comparison, Mason Plumlee has shot 67 percent in his career from the same area.
  • Attitude: Reports out of Denver claimed Nurkic didn't react well to losing his starting position.

Per-36 averages (career)

  • 15.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 2.2 blocks, 5.7 fouls

Per-36 averages (2016-17)

  • 16.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.6 blocks, 3.9 fouls

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(© 2017 KGW)


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