Jusuf Nurkic targeting return to Blazers around All-Star break
The 7-footer is expected to be a big reinforcement for a team that has struggled defensively all season long. Hassan Whiteside, whom the Blazers traded for in the summer, is manning the center position for the time being.
Nurkic is making positive strides in his recovery from a leg fracture he suffered late last season, keeping him out of the last few games of the regular season and his team’s run to the Western Conference Finals in the 2019 playoffs.
It’s unknown if Nurkic would regain his starting spot right away or if changes would be made upon his return to the court, though it’s highly unlikely that he and Whiteside play together in the same unit.
Nurkic averaged 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds last season along with 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. He’s shot 50% from the field or better in each of his last four seasons and he buried a career-high 77.3% of his foul shots last season.
Nurkic ramping up his activity level will also depend on the Blazers’ situation in February, as being too far out of a playoff run would ultimately mean Portland acting with extreme caution with not many benefits to trot him out on the court too soon.