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#pounditFriday, May 20, 2022

Blazers coach gushes over Jusuf Nurkic ahead of NBA restart

Jusuf Nurkic

Jusuf Nurkic will be making his season debut under unusual circumstances, but Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts is confident that he is good to go.

Speaking with the media Wednesday, Stotts raved about the Bosnian big’s physical condition and said he was ready for the NBA’s restart in Orlando.

“He’s really been working hard, not only on the court, but in the weight room,” said Stotts of Nurkic, per Orlando Sanchez of KGW-TV in Portland. “He’s been diligent every morning coming in throughout his rehab … I think physically, it’s the best I’ve seen him look. He’s got good muscle tone, he doesn’t look thin, he looks strong. I don’t know what his body fat is, but honestly, from a physical standpoint, it’s the best I’ve seen him.

Stotts also said that Nurkic will “in all likelihood” be starting next to Carmelo Anthony but could possibly even start alongside fellow big man Hassan Whiteside, per Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report.

Nurkic, 25, is now about 15 months removed from the compound leg fracture he suffered during a game against the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018-19 season. He has not played since, and Portland traded for Whiteside last summer to hold down the fort at center in Nurkic’s absence.

The Blazers will be getting another major piece back from injury in Orlando, and that should help offset the loss of some of their players who have opted out, including Trevor Ariza and Caleb Swanigan.

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