Dec. 12, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Detailed view of the US Airways Center logo on the court prior to the game between the Phoenix Suns against the Memphis Grizzlies at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Grizzlies 82-80. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NBA Draft: Jusuf Nurkic has all the physical tools

At 7’0 and 280 pounds, Jusuf Nurkic certainly possesses the body to be a difference-maker in the NBA, but questions about his fundamentals and consistency have kept his draft stock from rising among the ranks of other big men. However, despite being widely considered a “project,” Nurkic will have the ability to provide a physical presence right away, considering his physical tools and specific abilities.


Jusuf Nurkic possesses a monstrous frame, much like Al Jefferson who is 6’10 and 289 pounds. Nurkic’s 7’2” wingspan makes it very difficult for opponents to pass the ball in his vicinity, as he averaged more than 2.2 steals per 40 minutes this year, according to DraftExpress. Nurkic isn’t afraid of contact, especially when finishing around the rim, and he also has solid hands for a big man.

Nurkic’s size won’t be the only reason he’ll be able to provide in some ways immediately. Nurkic possesses an array of NBA ready post moves including a lethal right hook and an above average spin move, although he has much room to improve when using his left hand. Nurkic also shot about 70 percent from the line this year, which makes him very difficult to stop when he’s getting to the hoop because teams do not want to foul him.


While Nurkic does have a lot of upside, there are a few key reasons that he’s considered a project. To begin, Nurkic’s fundamentals are lacking in many different areas. Nurkic averaged 8.4 fouls per 40 minutes (one foul every 4:30) this season, spurring from his inability to set clean screens or hedge without throwing his body into the offensive player.

Nurkic also struggles to make smart decisions on offense, as he can shoot his team out of a game if he’s not hitting his shots or getting to the line. Nurkic averaged nearly five turnovers per 40 minutes, with an abysmal assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.32-to-1 (1.6 assists per 40 minutes).

Nurkic plays too aggressively at times, both on offense and when rebounding, where he relies mightily on his size to gain an advantage. Against bigger teams in the NBA, Nurkic will not always be able to muscle his way to the ball, meaning that he could be vulnerable to committing loose ball and over the back fouls on any rebounding opportunity.

How Jusuf Nurkic would fit with the Suns

While the Suns are probably not looking to take on another project-center this year, Jusuf Nurkic possesses the ability to come in and help the Suns’ depth right away. First, Nurkic would be able to come in off of the bench and be a large body in the paint, while he develops the rest of the game. Nurkic would be able to provide the Suns with a few fouls every night, and he would be able to physically match up with the likes of the bigger players in the NBA. While he isn’t much of a game changer right now, Nurkic could grow into a really solid center, which would make him a bit of a steal if the Suns could nab him with one of their three first-round picks. Of course, his development would be hindered sitting behind Miles Plumlee or Alex Len, but development overseas or in the D-League would benefit him more than earning spot minutes anyway.

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