Blazers general manager Neil Olshey worked his magic once again making a slam dunk trade. The biggest benefit of the deal was not acquiring Nurkic, but perhaps the first-round pick.
The trade signaled two things. One, Olshey was not going to be able to retain Plumlee at seasons end as he would come at too high of a price tag. Two, Olshey has three first-round picks in the 2017 draft, coming from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies and their own. With this added fire power, Olshey could look to deal those assets to acquire a big piece to put the Blazers in a favorable position in the short-term and moving forward.
What does Nurkic bring to the table?
Nurkic is a physical player that works hard in the low post, with decent offensive capabilities. He fell out of the rotation in Denver due to the outstanding play of former teammate Nikola Jokic. The downside with Nurkic is he is not a particularly good defender but there is plenty of time to grow.
Nurkic’s true value comes in his size and strength (6’11, 270 pounds). He uses his body well to impose himself on defenders in the low post and also uses his size to contest or alter shots on defense.
Despite Plumlee being much more established than Nurkic and playing a pivotal role during the playoffs last season, it is hard to say that he is better than Nurkic. Plumlee has averaged 11.1 points and eight rebounds in 28.1 minutes played, with Nurkic coming in at eight points and 5.8 rebounds on 17.9 minutes played.
While Plumlee has certainly had a better year on the surface, Nurkic has been a far more efficient player.
This is a win-win situation for both teams. Blazers get a physical center and future asset, while the Nuggets get a nice big man that can complement Jokic.
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