Once again, the Portland Trail Blazers are going to have to figure things out without their starting center.
Oft-injured Blazers starting five Jusuf Nurkic went down again during Thursday night’s 111-87 loss to the Indiana Pacers with a broken right wrist that will require surgery, keeping him out at least eight weeks, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The injury occurred in the third quarter after Nurkic blocked a dunk attempt by Indiana big man Myles Turner, who then proceeded to land hard on Nurkic, who in turn fell hard on himself, particularly his right wrist. During the ensuing timeout, Nurkic was taken to the locker room and did not re-emerge for the rest of the night.
Nurkic struggled to stay healthy for a full campaign before the 2017-2018 season, playing more than just 45 games just once in his first four years. The Tuzla, Bosnia native played 79 games in a breakout year in 2017-2018 and played 72 in 2018-2019 before suffering a gruesome compound fracture to his left tibia and fibula in March of 2019.
The 26-year-old hit rehab hard and was all set to make his return to the lineup a year later in March of 2020, but his comeback was put on hold when the NBA went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to cause problems in the league today.
However, he would be ready to go for the league’s return in August in the Orlando bubble, where he helped push the Blazers into the playoffs with 17.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.4 steals per contest during the Seeding Games.
Nurkic’s play took a step back in the playoffs against the dominant bigs of the Los Angeles Lakers, however, and the eighth-year veteran was only averaging 9.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 0.9 steals per game through 12 contests to start this season off before the injury.
Nonetheless, Nurkic is a huge part of this Blazers team, and with him joining power forward Zach Collins (ankle surgery, out indefinitely) on the shelf for the next couple of months, Portland will struggle to put out quality frontcourt players during this upcoming period. If Enes Kanter is on the waiver wire in your fantasy basketball league, scoop him up because he’s about to be in line for a big-time role—he can’t play defense but he’s a stat monster.
Portland will take to the court for the first time since Nurkic’s injury on Saturday night when the Atlanta Hawks come to town for a showdown between two of the best point guards in the game. Damian Lillard’s side is currently sitting as the -3.5 betting favorites at -116 odds over Trae Young’s Hawks on betting site 10Bet.