Name: Jusuf Nurkic
Height: 6’11.5″ (with shoes)
Weight: 280 pounds
Nurkic’s per-40 minute numbers this season are absurd for Cedevita, as he’s averaging 33 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and nearly two blocks per-40. He is fairly light on his feet for a guy his size, and his long arms make him a very effective finisher at the rim. Nurkic’s favorite shot seems to be a little righty hook that looks a bit more like a little flip shot than a true skyhook. His tremendous size makes him an absolute load in the post, and it will be tough for other players to handle him when he has his back to the basket. He’s only been playing organized basketball since 2009, but his feel for the game is quite natural. Nurkic’s most notable post move is a quick spin that he can take to either shoulder. Defenders often resort to fouling him rather than having him bowl through them, though that isn’t an ideal strategy either, considering Nurkic is an 80% free-throw shooter.
As far as rebounding goes, he’s not afraid to get physical and mix-it-up down low. He’s very active on the glass and uses his length to his advantage. His wide body makes him tough to move in box-out situations, which is obviously a fine quality, too. His defense isn’t very polished, but he’s been able to get away with a lot in the Adriatic League due to his physical gifts. The aforementioned long arms make it easy for him to disrupt passing lanes and shots, and he’s also very fluid when moving laterally.
Nurkic is far from what you’d call an “explosive athlete”, doing most of his damage without getting much vertical lift. He relies a ton on his long arms, which is fine at times, but he may struggle when matched-up against those that can actually get up and distract his shot attempts. He’s extremely prone to committing fouls, which has severely limited his playing time this season. He reaches a ton on defense. While that can result in heightened steal totals, it’s also an easy way to get into foul trouble. His defensive focus doesn’t always appear to be there, which makes it easy for him to get beat in pick-and-roll coverage, especially. He’s not really quick enough to adjust, and once he’s been blown-by, it’s too late to recover. While he’s oozing with defensive potential, he clearly doesn’t give as much effort on that side of the floor as he does on offense.
He’s also something of a black hole offensively. If he gets the ball, it’s going up more often than not. A lot of this is probably due to not being a particularly good passer, and his turnover numbers reflect that. His size makes it easy for him to establish good position on the block, but his shot selection at times leaves plenty to be desired. He doesn’t have much of a left hand to speak of, so he’s primarily going to be shooting with the right, which can get him into trouble and make him predictable.
Nurkic is only 19, so there’s plenty of time for his game to develop. You can tell just by looking at him that he’s not going to blow you away with his athleticism, but the polish is impressive for a player that hasn’t been playing for very long. He’s clearly far from a finished product, so it seems likely that a team will take a chance on him in the lottery. There aren’t many bigs that can score consistently with their backs to the basket in the league today, so a player with Nurkic’s potential is extremely appealing.