Trail Blazers are a completely different team with Jusuf Nurkic active

It took all of one possession for Jusuf Nurkic to remind the Indiana Pacers and the rest of the NBA that the beast is back.

One of the biggest storylines during this NBA restart has been the return of Portland Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic from that gruesome leg injury that has kept him off the court since March 2019.

Nurk was one game away from making his 2020 debut and then the NBA was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, with the NBA officially restarting on Thursday, he is back and looks ‘beast-y-er’ than ever.

The ‘bubble’ might have prevented any new cases of COVID-19 on the latest round of tests, but someone should advise the health staff that there is no cure for Nurk Fever.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with co-hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].

On Wednesday, Portland GM Neil Olshey joined NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstoh on the latest Habershow Podcast to discuss the return of the Bosnian Beast along with several other topics:

One of the things I think we’re all so impressed with Nurk is this was the Nurk we had with six weeks left in the season a year ago. The game was slowing down for him, he was finding his spots, he was letting the game come to him. He was exploiting defenses with his passing as well as scoring… – Neil Olshey

Nurk only had one practice with the Santa Cruz Warriors before the NBA was suspended. The season was shut down on March 11 and Nurk was supposed to start the following Sunday against the Houston Rockets

His return to the court has indeed been impressive and hasn’t skipped a beat. Nurkic finished the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 27 minutes against the Toronto Raptors.

Him not missing a beat, especially for a guy where timing is so critical to his game – he throws a lot of timing passes, his rhythm in the post – he found a way to add an element to his game with being a threat on the three-point line. It was something that he had tinkered with and experimented with a year ago, but I think the ability to just get so many shots up during his rehab, really built some confidence in him. – Neil Olshey

Nurk hit a three-pointer in two of Portland’s three scrimmages, something we haven’t seen in Nurk’s game before.

If this element is consistent, then the NBA is in trouble not just because the 7-footer can hit from beyond the arc, but because the guy he is trying to free up is one of the best shooters and point guards in the game: Damian Lillard.

The Blazers’ quest for the eight seed begins on Friday, July 31 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Watch the game on NBC Sports Northwest or stream it on the MyTeams app!

Trail Blazers are a completely different team with Jusuf Nurkic active originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest