The Portland Trail Blazers will get some major reinforcements back in Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins when the 2019-20 season resumes later this July.
Per Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports, head coach Terry Stotts said that the two big men looked like they never missed a beat from the significant time they took off the court.
“They both looked like the way we remember them playing… You couldn’t tell that either one of them had missed any time.”
— Coach Stotts on Nurk and Zach in their first practiceice back
— Jamie Hudson (@JamieHudsonNBCS) July 12, 2020
Jusuf Nurkic has not played a game since March 25, 2019, the day he suffered a gruesome broken leg injury. The Bosnian Beast already had a return date set in mid-March, but obviously, it didn’t push through after the coronavirus pandemic forced the season to shut down.
Zach Collins, meanwhile, suffered a dislocated shoulder three games into the 2019-20 season, further adding to Portland’s injury woes.
Now, both big men are more than ready to help Portland in their bid to make the postseason. Nurkic and Collins will join shot-blocking specialist Hassan Whiteside in the Blazers’ front court.
Portland enters the “bubble” games in Disney World in Orlando, Florida as the no.9 seed. They are currently 3.5 games behind the no.8 seed Memphis Grizzlies.
Collins started at power forward for Portland this season. After he suffered his season-altering injury, the Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony to fill in the void at the four spot. Now, with Trevor Ariza opting to sit out the rest of the season, Damian Lillard suggested that they could employ a big lineup with Collins starting at power forward with Melo sliding to the three.
Meanwhile, the Blazers will still likely bring Nurkic back slowly given the seriousness of the injury he is coming back from. Nurk was having a career year with the Blazers prior to his devastating injury. In 72 starts in the 2018-19 season, the 7-foot, 280-pound big man averaged career bests of 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for Rip City.