Jusuf Nurkic: Fantasy Production at a Discount
By Rocco Minsk For much of last season, Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic operated in a state of mutually assured destruction, where the presence of the other served to reduce each one’s fantasy value. In February, the Nuggets decided to free Willy and traded Nurkic to the Blzers, unleashing two fantasy beasts onto the universe. Everyone at this point knows the Jokic story as many drafts have Jokic going towards the tail end of the first round, before such luminaries as DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Lillard. While I think that pick is on the aggressive side, the point of this article is to highlight Nurkic and describe the incredible fantasy value that he may hold.
Nurkic is currently going in the 50s in drafts on most forums, somewhere in the middle of the fifth round. To get a true sense of his value, you need to focus on his stats that he put up since the trade to the Trail Blazers. In his 20 games with Portland, Nurkic averaged 15.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 1.9 BPG. The cherry on top of that one is the 3.2 APG, which makes him a poor man’s Nokic who can pass the ball too. To add to the fantasy goodness, Nurkic has been quoted as saying that he intends to step outside for the occasional three point shot this year too. In Nurkic’s March tear, he played 30 minutes or more seven times and in five of those games recorded a double-double, including a 33 point and 15 rebound game right before he suffered a minor leg fracture that caused him to miss time. The other frontcourt options on Portland (Meyers Leonard, Ed Davis) do not present a huge impediment to lots of playing time for Nurkic so 30 minutes per night could be the norm provided that Nurkic stays healthy. Plus, Nurkic has the motive of gunning for a long-term extension this year.
To give an idea of how Nurkic should really be valued, one needs to look at another similar comp to Nurkic based on Nurkic’s Portland numbers. When you think of shotblocking double double machines in the frontcourt, the discussion begins with Rudy Gobert. Gobert has an ADP of 16 in Yahoo leagues. While Gobert’s draft position is based in part on the expectation that his offensive numbers may grow slightly this season, here is a side-by-side comparison of Rudy and the Portland version of Nurkic
Gobert – 14 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 66.1 FG%
Nurkic – 15.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 3.2 APG .508 FG%
While I am not advocating reaching for Nurkic in the second round, his value is greater than a fifth-round pick and it would be worthwhile to overdraft Nurkic in the 4th round as he will be a top-5 shotblocker who will contribute in all categories except for FT%