A lot of the worry has been centered around how the Portland Trail Blazers can reproduce the offensive impact that Jusuf Nurkic brings to the floor. The big Bosnian is out for the season with a broken leg, an especially damaging blow this late in the season. Portland has run a lot of passes through Nurkic at the high post this year, and the Blazers offense will spatially function fundamentally different with him sidelined.
However, I think the biggest change for the Blazers with Nurkic out will be on defense.
Portland’s defense is 5.35 points per 100 possessions better with Nurkic on the floor this season, per PBP stats. He’s an excellent defender inside of six feet, and is a top 10 when it comes to defensive field goal percentage for starting centers according to NBA.com.
With Nurkic out, coach Terry Stotts will need to do something different. However, his alternatives in Enes Kanter, Zach Collins, and Meyers Leonard aren't the same kind of defensive players. What can Stotts do to cobble together an effective defensive lineup that stays out of foul trouble? I think there's some answers yet to be had here.
Then there's the offensive side of the ball. Wednesday night's game against the Chicago Bulls notwithstanding, Collins has slowly lost his scoring confidence. Meanwhile Leonard has regressed after having his minutes cut in March.
What this means is that replacing Nurkic’s offensive production can probably be most easily replicated by Kanter, who has the ability to operate from similar spots on the floor, and draw some of that same gravity from defenders.
It won't be easy, but watch the full video breakdown above to see how Portland might be able to amalgamate a big man rotation that can keep opponents on their toes as the Blazers try to battle for playoff victory in the weeks ahead.