NBA Draft: Re-drafting the 2014 NBA Draft’s first round

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images /
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Jusuf Nurkic
Jusuf Nurkic (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

2014 NBA Redraft: 9. Jusuf Nurkic, Charlotte Hornets

In an interesting twist of fate, Jusuf Nurkic served as the backup to Nikola Jokic when they both played in Denver, overlapping for just about a season and a half. During his final run with the team, Nurkic was productive in a little over 20 minutes per game.

The Bosnian Beast averaged 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds a night over 45 games in the 2016-17 season. Once it was clear to the organization that his teammate had talent far exceeding his own, Nurkic was shipped to the Portland Trail Blazers, a blessing in disguise that allowed him to blossom.

Since he arrived in Portland, Nurkic has seen a tremendous increase in both minutes and shot attempts. The Blazers fully committed to him as their man in the middle. Outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, nobody is more important to Portland’s success than Nurkic.

At seven feet, 275 pounds, he’s a force in the paint but also nimble enough to get around defenders as well. Despite a frame that would slow some big men down, Nurkic’s defense has been a surprising bright spot for a player his size.

Some wondered what this talented center could do without another player breathing down his neck. This isn’t to insult a superior Jokic, but Nurkic has gotten that chance with the Blazers, and, despite battling numerous injuries in recent years, he hasn’t wasted a second of it.