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Jusuf Nurkic wants Blazers to play defense like the ‘Bad Boys’

Jusuf Nurkic
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Jusuf Nurkic made quite an impact upon joining the Portland Trail Blazers in February. He averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 20 games with the Blazers, who went 14-5 with him in the starting lineup.

The Blazers saw a significant improvement on defense when Nurkic came into the lineup. This season, the big Bosnian wants that defense to be much better compared to the “trash” it was before he arrived, he said in a story by the Associated Press that ran on Pro Basketball Talk.

Jusuf Nurkic

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

“Our defense was trash, to be honest, before,” he said. “We’re going to be better. When I came it was better and we’re going to keep improving that. It’s simple: If you want to win, you need to play defense.”

Nurkic also gave a potential role model for the Trail Blazers to look up to: the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” team.

“All we can do is put all we can together and be Bad Boys,” the 7-footer known as the Bosnian Beast said. “I mean, we are Bad Boys. When you come to Portland you know you’re not going to have wins easy.”

Jusuf Nurkic is right on point in terms of the Blazers needing to prioritize their defense this year. The team was just not good enough on that end of the court, ranking only 21st in defensive efficiency last season.

The Bad Boys Pistons will be a good team for them to emulate. Like those Pistons teams which had a Hall of Fame-backcourt of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, the Blazers already have the excellent combination of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum taking care of the offense.

jusuf nurkic, blazers

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As the anchor of the defense, though, it’ll be up to Jusuf Nurkic to set the tone on that end even if that means adding more physicality to his game a la Bill Laimbeer. But in the end, it’ll still take a team effort for the Blazers to show significant improvement defensively.