Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
There has been a lot of banter and jabs by Blazers fans when you raise the question – “Who should be the Blazers starting center?”
Now obviously, you can say that both players have done their fair share to claim the job. But, as you dig deeper you’ll find that Enes Kanter is better statistically this season. Nurkic seems to have lost a step from the great season that he had in 2019, but he also seems to be picking.
So, lets look at the cases for both:
The Portland Trail Blazers traded Mason Plumlee for Nurkic, and that seems like forever ago. Though it was an upgrade that the team needed.
If it wasn’t for Nurkic, the Blazers wouldn’t have been the three seed back in 2019. His injury was just an unfortunate ending to a great season.
Jusuf Nurkic can be a beast, we all saw what he did in the regular season in 2019. But, this season he has not been the same as the Nurkic then or even the Nurk that we saw in the bubble. However, due to injuries, he has also been on a minute restriction.
But, Jusuf Nurkic when he is healthy has proven to be one of the best all-around centers in the NBA, especially now that he has improved his three-point shooting. Not only can he score and play defense, but if Nurkic had been healthy and active all season long his 3.4 assists would be 5th in the NBA among centers.
Over the past two games, it seems as if the Beast has been awakened. On Friday against the Grizzlies, he recorded 26 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. He turned around and continued that up Sunday with 16 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
So, the question is has the Bosnian Beast woke up?
Well, if he has this will be good news for the Blazers heading into the final stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
Two seasons ago when the Blazers acquired Kanter, he knew that his role would be as the backup. That was until Nurkic when down with that freak injury. This offseason, Neil Olshey looked like an absolute genius receiving Kanter in a trade for Mario Hezonja.
Kanter has been absolutely fabulous for the Blazers this season. His rebounding has been top-notch on both sides of the ball. He recorded a franchise-record 30 rebounds for the Blazers.
For the Blazers on the season, Kanter is averaging 11.9 points, 11.5 rebounds (5th in NBA), 1.3 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 0.5 steals. According to Statmuse, Enes Kanter has averaged 13.3 points and 13.2 rebounds to go alongside 1.5 assists as a starter this season.
“Enes has been unbelievably important to our team this year,” coach Terry Stotts said. “Not just tonight. But for as many games as Nurk has missed this year, to have a player of Enes’ caliber as a backup center, and what he has done for the team … he’s a big part of the reason why we have as many wins (31) as we do.”
Kanter has never been known for his defense, however, if it wasn’t for Kanter, the Blazers would not be where they are at this point in the season.
So Who Should Start?
It’s tough to decide who should start for the Blazers at the center. Both centers play in a different style. But when it comes down to what’s best for the team, Nurkic starting is best for the team because of his offensive prowess and his defense.
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