Center – Jusuf Nurkic
The center position is clear now – but that doesn’t mean it will be for the duration of the season – and that will be of concern to the organization. The Suns traded Deandre Ayton for Jusuf Nurkic, Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson, in a move that was met with mild enthusiasm from most fans.
There was no doubt Ayton had to go, but for an underwhelming package like that? Thankfully for the Suns, Nurkic showed in a preseason meeting between Ayton and himself that he is the more dominant of the two. So much so that Ayton ducked the second meeting between the pair entirely back in The Valley.
In limited minutes, the fit with Nurkic looks ideal. He doesn’t need the ball a lot, offensively knows when to move, screen and roll to the basket, and he has soft hands. Defensively he has been better than advertized in limited run as well, moving with a fluidity on that end that people did not see coming.
But health is an issue for Nurkic, and at 29-years-old he isn’t raising the ceiling of this group either. In fact if he misses a significant amount of time, all the Suns will have done in trading for him is lower their floor. Not a good place to be in when you’ve gone as all in as any team can in trying to win.
Assuming he is available, Nurkic will start on opening night. But how many minutes he can play, and how active he will be on back-to-backs, is still unknown. That is a massive variable for a group that is so set and ready to roll at the other positions. The depth isn’t fantastic behind Nurkic and Durant can’t spend too much time there either. A shaky finish to a strong starting five.