Nurkic Game 1 Overreaction

There was a strange sighting Tuesday night in Salt Lake City. No, it wasn’t the Blazers allowing a deficit to balloon to insurmountable levels quicker than Raymond Felton’s post-season waste line. This was a positive injection of size, in the form of a 280 pound newcomer, Jusuf Nurkic.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz

Back to the basket, Back to the basket? Back…..to the… Basket? It sound’s weird, foreign even. This was the position Nurkic took up, albeit briefly in his role as back-up center Tuesday. The former Nugget is a bruiser whose nickname, “The Bosnian Beast” conjures up visions of old wives tales and popular Folklore. Or perhaps a reminiscent figure of the NBA’s past, a big man who is comfortable on the block.

Nurkic finished the night with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block. He shot an aberrational 5-5 from the field with an equally uncommon 4 turnovers in his 21 minute stint. Despite his pedestrian totals (regardless of the CRAZY per 36 avgs that line would produce), his output was noticeable on both sides of the ball.

For the first time since crazy legs Kaman, Lillard and CJ distributed the ball to a teammate posted up with his back to the basket, and after showing early success the defense began to collapse. I’m not talking Shaq or Hakeem collapses here, but just enough to free up much needed space. On various occasions Nurkic spearheaded stellar ball movement, with his initial offerings, leading to multiple open looks. On one offensive set in particular CJ dropped the ball down low only to receive a beautifully weighted touch pass right back  for an open corner three. It’s the little things like his footwork, vision as a passer, and finishing around the rim that made his debut so promising.

On the defensive side of the ball his 6’11 wide frame proved far more difficult for the Jazz to traverse than his front-court counterparts in Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis. His quick hands and sheer surface area led to 3 steals and a block, but more importantly it made the Jazz question running their offense through the paint.

He looked a bit clunky on pick & rolls, rolling the same direction as the guard on at least two occasions. At times on offense he looked a bit forced leading to his 4 turnovers. Defensively, while naturally reading the game well,  communication on switches and missed assignments led to a couple easy finishes for Gobert. All of that being said, Nurkic posted a plus / minus of +18 which was 13 better than Portland’s second best performer on the night, Pat Conhaughton. In fact those were the only two players who post a “plus” line.

Portland traded away an asset certain to leave them in the off-season, with no return on investment. Instead, they acquired a young, promising center on a rookie contract, coupled a first round pick in next years draft. As a Blazer fan I’m excited to see how Nurkic progresses, and purely as a follower of the NBA It’s hard to argue with that business logic. It’s cliche to say “the verdict is still out”,but it seems an obvious conclusion after just one game. If nothing else Nurkic has certainly given Blazer fans something to be excited about.

 

 

Myles Turner “Air fives” a crowd

It’s common courtesy for teammates to give their fellow teammate love after a free throw, made, missed, air balled or otherwise. Well on this occasion Myles Turner felt hard done by, but he wasn’t to be denied, and the air near by became a recipient of some quick, succinct low-five action.

Hello Sports fans

I’m not a professional writer, nor have I been an amateur one of late. Sports fan from the great northwest, my allegiances are deeply tied to the state of Oregon. This blog / series of non-linear thoughts / amalgamation of nonsense, is intended to be an all encompassing basketball blog, but will surely be NBA saturated. I’m not here to portray myself as an unbiased party, or the guy who spends hours studying different variations of the 2-3 zone. But alas, basketball, cruelly the sport I excelled at least, is the one I find myself gravitating to most.

Let’s start with a list of things that make up some of my recent musings. This may or may not be a list of things I hold near and dear to my heart a day after publishing this.

  1. The 90’s wasn’t a better era for basketball, and the three point line isn’t ruining the game. Evolution happens, within ourselves, and the environment around us, sports aren’t an exception.
  2. I have NBA league pass, and Joel Embiid on two fantasy teams. You can consider me your resident west coast expert on all things 76ers. HOT TAKE: The starting PG is whoever isn’t injured.
  3. The Los Angeles Clippers are a clown franchise filled with clown players, driven to games in a clown car by their clown, coach Doc Rivers.
  4. Lebron James is really bad at lay-ups.
  5. Michael Redd was one smooth cat.
  6. The Chinese Basketball Association is an odd and beautiful place. Where Jimmer can average 40 a game, and Stephon Marbury can earn that coveted Permanent Resident status.
  7. College basketball feels like an entirely different product than the NBA, and outside of fan passion I don’t think thats a good thing.
  8. Hack a whoever should stay. AD, KAT, Cousins and the new wave of dynamic big men are the future. Let the game, and more importantly the players, adapt. If 10 years down the line every center is shooting above 65% from the line the sport will be better for it.
  9. To expand on that last point, Boogie Cousins is a bad man.
  10. NBA on TNT coverage of games in Oklahoma City is truly saddening. That place looks terrible, who could blame KD for wanting out of that dust bowl.
  11. The Boston Celtics local color commentator, Tommy Heinsohn is as bad as you’d expect.
  12. The NBA, as a brand is seeing it’s value skyrocket and has more marketing  opportunities than it’s American Sport counterparts. The influx of foreign players keeps growing, while the health issues surrounding football nearly ensures the best American athletes will prefer the court over the field.

I’m sure my next post will be about the Blazers blowing another 4th quarter lead, but until then..

Cheers,

-Michael