Blazers: 3 goals for Jusuf Nurkic to achieve next season

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DENVER, CO – APRIL 9: Jusuf Nurkic (27) of the Portland Trail Blazers and Evan Turner (1) sit on the bench against the Denver Nuggets during the first half on Monday, April 9, 2018. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

With a new contract that was signed this summer, Jusuf Nurkic must improve his offense and make up for Ed Davis being gone. Here are three goals to help him do that.

Jusuf Nurkic solidified himself as the Portland Trail Blazers’ third option in his first full season with the organization. He maintained his ‘Nurk Fever’ stats for the entire campaign despite skeptics thinking his impressive 20-game stint with Portland in 2016-2017 was a fluke.

Over those 79 games, Nurkic proved that he deserved one of the more lucrative contracts among big men on the market this offseason. Accordingly, he re-signed with the Blazers for four years worth $48 million. The deal benefitted him and the organization, which is strapped for cash even after letting Shabazz Napier, Ed Davis and Pat Connaughton walk in free agency.

But by spending $12 million per year to retain Nurkic, Portland’s frontcourt rotation slimmed down. Davis signed a one-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets, and the Blazers failed to sign or draft a new big man to replace him.

Behind Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu, either Meyers Leonard or Caleb Swanigan will join Zach Collins as the bench unit’s power forward and center.

Losing the reliability of Davis and putting his 15-20 minutes in the hands of unproven big men increases Nurkic’s importance for Portland. Terry Stotts will probably ask him to play more than 26.4 minutes per game, so hopefully his slimmer frame can handle the strain.

Here are three goals for Nurkic to maximize his increased minute-load as well as save the Blazers’ frontcourt rotation without its veteran.

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