When the trade was made for Jusuf Nurkic, there were a lot of Phoenix Suns fans who were mad, and rightfully so; they traded away Deandre Ayton, their first-ever No. 1 overall pick in the franchise’s history.
But, for everything it’s worth, Jusuf Nurkic is a better fit for the Suns; he just may not be the better overall player. He can defend better and possibly be a better rebounder. At the same time, Ayton will be a focal point of the offense in Portland with the Trail Blazers alongside Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons.
The Suns will certainly miss Aayton, but they will love what Nurkic will bring. On Monday, during the Suns 2023 Media Day, new head coach Frank Vogel broke down just how Nurkic helps this team and what his fit will be like within Vogel’s system, which was one of the biggest takeaways from Media Day.
“As a defensive anchor and his ability to pass the basketball offensively with the perimeter firepower that we have really made him a great fit for our system,” Vogel said. “He’s one of the best defensive rebounders in the game, you know, so as we compete to guard, we’re going to force a lot of misses, and we got to get a board; we want to get out and be a running team.”
The Suns didn’t need Ayton, a guy who likes to do the bulk of his work in the post when they now have three guys who can get 30 any night in Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant. They needed a guy who could rebound, defend, and not get mad when he didn’t get his touches.
That’s exactly what they got in Nurkic, too. Now, they just need him to stay healthy. Nurkic can be exactly what they need when it comes to having a presence on the glass, making outlet passes, and even defending the bigger centers like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, who is his former teammate.
We knew he would play a similar role to that, but to hear Vogel explain what he was thinking in the fit when they traded for him just wraps everything up in a bow.