Nurkić Makes Top 10 Of ESPN's International Player Rankings

by Casey Holdahl
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It’s been an uneven start to the season for Jusuf Nurkić. In his first six games, the 7-0 center from Bosnia and Herzegovina is averaging 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 blocks in 26.0 minutes, which aren’t bad numbers by any stretch, but he’s shooting just 39 percent from the field and is averaging 3.7 turnovers and 3.5 fouls per game. So there’s still quite a bit of room for improvement.

But even though he hasn’t duplicated this season his performance during his first 20 games with the Trail Blazers, at just 23 years old, Nurkić is already one of the best international players in the NBA according to ESPN. In their most recent ranking of players born outside of the United States, Nurkić comes in at No. 9, which is 12-spots better than his ranking last season…

Nurkic showed flashes that he's capable of becoming the third cog the Blazers so badly need. An untimely injury and doomed opening-round matchup with the Warriors in the playoffs last season may have delayed enthusiasm, but there's reason to be optimistic in the Northwest as the Blazers outscored teams by 11.3 points per 100 possessions in more than 400 minutes with Nurkic on the floor alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. That pair was a whopping 15 points per 100 possessions worse when sharing the floor without Nurkic.

At No. 9, Nurkić comes in ahead of Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams at No. 10 and behind Boston’s Al Horford at No. 8. Nurkić also ranks higher than the likes of Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons (No. 22), Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson (No. 19), Toronto’s Serge Ibaka (No. 17), Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins (No. 14) and Miami’s Goran Dragic. ESPN’s Top 3 internationals are Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Nurkić former teammate.