Feed the Beast: New Jusuf Nurkic has an old school weapon

Feed the Beast: New Jusuf Nurkic has an old school weapon

The new weapon was supposed to arrive from 24 feet out.

Coming into the season, Jusuf Nurkic was supposedly going add a three-point shot. Instead the latest addition to his arsenal is coming in the post where “New Nurk” is honing an old school game with recent flashes of effective, bruising post play.

In Oakland last Thursday, Nurkic roughed up Golden State for 27 points and 12 rebounds. Two nights later, in the rematch against Golden State in Portland he put up 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Then on Sunday night’s blowout win over the Philadelphia 76ers, he added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

For the season, Nurkic averages 4.5 post ups a game, according to NBA.com. But over the past three games, the Blazers have fed Nurkic inside, giving him 14 post touches a night and allowing him to body smaller players with a his back to the basket game.

“I realized I need to be more aggressive,” Nurkic said. “And I have to be more patient when teams play really small and try to play in the post more.”

Obviously much of Nurkic’s success in the post is matchup-based. Neither the Warriors nor the Joel Embiid-less 76ers had a center who could match Portland’s big man inside. The fact that the Blazers, who have been mostly post up averse over the past four seasons, continually fed Nurkic inside is noteworthy. It’s an important change of pace for an offense that is heavily reliant on pick and rolls.

“I think it’s really good for Dame (Lillard) and CJ (McCollum) and the other guys to kinda free space,” Nurkic said. “Usually (the other team) is doubling them in the pick and roll. My job is just to help them with that.”

Nurkic has scored inside in nearly every way, spinning past Amir Johnson, plowing through Kevon Looney and going right over the top of Draymond Green. But he isn’t only looking to score on the block. Nurkic has commanded double teams and found teammates with passes when extra defenders arrive.

Nurkic has always wanted to post up more with the Blazers. Last season, he stopped just short of complaining about the lack of post ups on a few occasions. But truthfully, he wasn’t patient enough or skilled enough with his off hand to be a consistent low block option.

He has spent much of this season working with Blazers assistants on finishing with his left hand and scoring through contact.

“I think he’s slowed down a lot and he’s just playing a much smarter game,” Damian Lillard said.

The Blazers offense isn’t hopping in a time machine with a back to the basket behemoth leading the attack. But Nurkic has shown enough improvement with his skills and decision making on the block that the Blazers can rely on that option when they need it.

“Obviously the two games against Golden State he was very effective,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “And it’s very encouraging, but it’s part of his growth. He’s gotta continue it.”

NBARookieWeek: Rookies dancing at Trail Blazers Fan Fest is the best

NBARookieWeek: Rookies dancing at Trail Blazers Fan Fest is the best

The Trail Blazers Fan Fest has become a fun tradition for Rip City to watch the Blazers intra-squad scrimmage and get their first look at the roster.

A fan favorite just might be the Blazers rookies taking center court and dancing in front of their teammates, the coaching staff, and all the Blazers faithful.

The Trail Blazers tweeted out a great throwback video on Friday in honor of the NBA’s Rookie Week.

It’s hard to decide who has the best moves and who has the worst moves, but one thing is certain:

It’s always fun watching a young Damian Lillard, or a young Zach Collins, or a little bit younger Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr strut their stuff.

This year’s Fan Fest is set for Sunday, October 6th.

To help tip-off the Trail Blazers 50th Anniversary Season, this year’s Fan Fest will be held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

You can catch all the action of Fan Fest including the rookie dances on the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest.
Doors will open at 4 p.m. Fans can download their free digital tickets online at trailblazers.com/fanfest.

Damian Lillard commits to Team USA for 2020 Summer Olympics

Damian Lillard commits to Team USA for 2020 Summer Olympics

Damian Lillard took a quick two-day trip to Sydney, Australia earlier this week as Adidas’ Global Ambassador.

In his limited time in Sydney, Lillard sat down to do an interview with news.com.au to talk Olympics, his music, filming Space Jam 2 and more.

After NBA stars, including Lillard, pulled out of the recent FIBA World Cup this summer, people are now focused on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In his recent interview, Lillard confirmed he does want to play for Team USA for the 2020 Olympics.

“I plan of being a part of that. I plan on playing,” Lillard said.

Team USA is one of eight teams that have already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The remaining four teams will earn berths during qualifying tournaments in July.

Lillard now joins Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green who have pledged to represent Team USA already, along with Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.

One thing is for sure – it’s a good thing the Olympics weren’t this summer.

Lillard has had busy offseason.

The 29-year-old had been filming alongside LeBron James for Space Jam 2 earlier this summer.

Lillard couldn’t give away any spoilers for Space Jam 2, but he is happy with the end result.

“I think people are really going to enjoy it… I’m proud of it, I can say that,” Lillard said.  

The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard also released his third rap album.  

Dame D.O.L.L.A. has continued to make a name for himself in the music industry.

Lillard has always been interested in pursing a rap career.

“When I made it to the NBA I just continued to do it and the platform I have as a player just shined a light on the music and it’s taken off now,” Lillard said.

“It’s real music,” Lillard added while mentioning how he is blessed to have worked with artists such as Lil Wayne.

“It’s pretty cool, I work with Wayne on all my albums. Just having him as a mainstay on all my albums is pretty cool, it’s been a pleasure and an honor because he’s one of the best to ever do it,” Lillard said.

“A lot of mainstream artists can’t get him on, so the fact he does it for me is a blessing.”

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Anthony Tolliver… Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Anthony Tolliver… Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Anthony Lamar Tolliver

BIRTHDAY: June 1st, 1985

AGE: 34

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini

Before Fame

Tolliver played 4 years of college basketball at Creighton. He was one of four players from his Kickapoo High School team to play Division I basketball.

Fun Facts

Tolliver grew up with six sisters. Yep, Anthony is the only boy of the family. 

Tolliver’s mother was a teacher for 31 years.

While with the Pistons, Tolliver discussed how he spent his NBA money as a rookie:

"I put my first pro paycheck in the bank and let it sit there. During my rookie season the only thing I bought was a Chrysler 300."

Not All About Basketball Nets

For the past few years, Tolliver has pledged to support and help send nets to save lives.

‘Nothing But Nets’ is a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness, funds, and voices to fight malaria.

Both Tolliver and Steve Blake joined the ‘Nothing But Nets’ campaign earlier this year and hope to raise awareness and funds, as well as encourage fans, to help protect refugees and their families from malaria.

Tolliver pledged to donate and help out the ‘Nothing But Nets’ organization back in 2016. He wrote:

“To me, it is inexcusable to accept that depending on the zip code you were born in, or the country you live in, your destiny is already pre-determined by the level of access you have to health care. I serve as a Nothing But Nets ambassador because it shouldn’t matter where you are born — no child should die from a mosquito bite. I know that even with just a little help, I can help kids across the globe with an opportunity to live another day and have another birthday just by sending a bed net and protecting them from malaria.

Imagine that — something as simple as sending a bed net can protect a child from a deadly, but preventable disease.”

All The Love For Portland

Tolliver is happy to be in Rip City:

“Free agency was a bit of a whirlwind. I was really looking for an opportunity to go to a team where I was valued and wanted. They made that very clear. I haven’t had free agency go this quickly in my entire career. But I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity to play for a contender and play with guys like Dame and CJ and there are a lot of great players on this team.

“And also, kind of watching the playoffs last year, how they got double-teamed a lot and that’s literally how guys like myself can excel.”

^^^ Tolliver told the media at his introductory press conference.

Wedding Date

In 2011, Tolliver married Jessica Svoboda. They met at Creighton University, during their freshman orientation. The couple has two kids together.

The Proposal

Jonah Ballow, a reporter of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011, sat down with Tolliver for the ‘Wolves Hot Seat.’  Tolliver answered 10 rapid-fire questions, including the biggest change in his life since his proposal to his longtime girlfriend:

“I spent a lot of money,” Tolliver said with a big smile.

Watch the throwback video to hear more from a younger Tolliver:

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

It’s hard to believe the NBA season is just around the corner.

NBA training camp tips off in less than two weeks.

We have seen the various predictions of where teams are expected to land in the Western and Eastern Conference, but what about individual play?

What about the NBA’s top duos?

Bleacher Report ranked the top 10 backcourts, and they put the Trail Blazers duo of point guard Damian Lillard and shooting guard CJ McCollum at the top.

Greg Swartz, author of the article, had this to say of the star tandem:

"With no Curry and Thompson to look up to (for now), the Trail Blazers backcourt can finally stake its claim as the NBA's best.

Coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals, Lillard and McCollum combined for 46.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.9 assists during the regular season while turning the ball over just 4.2 total times per game.

In six years together, Portland has never had a losing record, reaching the postseason every time.

Following a 53-win season and the third seed in the West, Lillard almost single-handedly dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise with a now-iconic shot and pose to end the first round, leading to Paul George requesting a move and a subsequent trade of Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.

In their 16 postseason games, both Lillard and McCollum proved why they deserve to be called the NBA's best. Lillard averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.7 steals and shot 37.3 percent from deep on nearly 10 attempts per game. McCollum was right behind with 24.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and he drilled 39.3 percent of his three-pointers."

Coming in second on the Bleacher Report list is Golden State Warrior’s Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell. (That’ll take some getting used to).

Houston's new backcourt of James Harden and Russell Westbrook came in at No. 3.

Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell in Utah ranked No. 4.

Denver's Jamal Murray and Gary Harris round out the Top 5.

Read more here.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Hassan Niam Whiteside

BIRTHDAY: June 13th, 1989

AGE: 30

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini

Before Fame

Whiteside played college ball at Marshall University, where he was a Conference USA Freshman of the year and Second-team All-Conference USA.

Fun Facts

If Whiteside wasn’t a basketball player, he told the Miami Heat, he would be a NASCAR driver.

Math was his favorite subject in school.

His first big purchase as an NBA player was a 2010 Escalade.

Football Father

Whiteside’s parents are Hasson Arbubakrr and Debbie Whiteside. His father played in the NFL from 1983 to 1984 for the Vikings and the Buccaneers.

Pushing Through Adversity

To say Whiteside has bounced around, and in and out of the league, would be an understatement.

After the Sacramento Kings selected him as the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 draft and later waived him, Whiteside floated through the D-League and overseas.

He made a stop in Lebanon in 2013, but just two games in, his teammates started a fight with the opposing team and the season was canceled. So Whiteside went to the Chinese NBL.

Here’s a quick look at the various teams Whiteside has played for at one time or another:

2012–13    Sioux Falls Skyforce

2013           Rio Grande Valley Vipers

2013           Amchit Club

2013           Sichuan Blue Whales

2013–14   Al Mouttahed Tripoli

2014           Jiangsu Tongxi

2014           Iowa Energy

2014–19   Miami Heat

2014          Sioux Falls Skyforce

Quickly Becoming A Portlander

Just days after the reports came out that Whiteside was signing with the Portland Trail Blazers; Whiteside started giving back to his new community.

In a series of videos shared on Instagram, Whiteside was seen handing out Voodoo doughnuts to people on the streets, while shouting, “Go Portland, Go Blazers! We got shooters!”

"You get some Voodoo Doughnuts. I got like three dozen," Whiteside said. "Giving them out to the city! We giving them out to the city, man. We sharing love, man. More love, man. We don't do the hate, my man. Less hate, man.”

Love For Koi Fish

In an interview with The Ringer back in October of 2018, Whiteside shared more about his personal life.  

A big part of his everyday life is his fishpond. It’s easy to see Whiteside’s love of fish, particularly Koi fish from reading the article.

Here is an excerpt from The Ringer article by Haley O’Shaughnessy:

We’re crouched down in his front yard in Miami Beach, sweating into a pond of 40 koi fish. “Come here, OGs,” Whiteside says, touching the water. Like him, they’re strikingly oversized, a group of orange and black and white koi all longer than my forearm. His Snapchat followers (who he also talks to, several times a day) know them well. “They’re more famous than me, man,” he says, wiping water off on his worn-in brown tank top. Whiteside’s been in Miami since the Heat signed him in November 2014, but his drawl—the kind that acts as a thickening agent for vowels and turns “man” from one syllable to two—comes from Gastonia, North Carolina, his hometown.

All 40 fish have a name. Whiteside names everything: The planter in the backyard (Man of Ultimate Wisdom), the bust made of Canadian pennies in the living room. Every name has an explanation, and every explanation has deeper meaning. Which he shares with me, one by one. (The bust is Penny. Name. Sure, a penny itself is worthless, but thousands of pennies together aren’t, especially the Canadian penny, because it’s discontinued. Explanation. Isn’t that beautiful? And, Whiteside smiles, what’s more beautiful than the human body? Meaning. Deep.)

So yes, to answer my question, the fish are individuals. Together he calls them the OGs. He knows what I’m thinking, but it’s short for Old Guys. “They can live to be 140. Don’t matter how much shit they swim through,” Whiteside explains as we walk the stairs of his all-white waterfront home, “they keep swimming.”

Throwback To A Day In The Life Of Hassan Whiteside

Seven years ago, the Sacramento Kings posted a video to their Youtube page as they followed Whiteside around for a day.

From breakfast to working out at the Kings practice facility to figuring out what goes in his protein shake to taking a tour through his condo to getting a haircut to checking out a fish store for his growing aquarium – it was an all-access look.

Check out Whiteside's routine in Sacramento with this throwback video:

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

The Trail Blazers start their training camp in just a few weeks. That means the NBA season is right around the corner and so is the end of summer. Speaking of "End of Summer," that's the names of the latest freestyle track dropped by Dame D.O.L.L.A, aka Damian Lillard for you basketball fans. 

Earlier this summer D.O.L.L.A released "Big D.O.L.L.A," his third album and the follow-up to 2017's "Confirmed." The track "End of Summer" just adds to a near endless list of impressive lyrical endeavors for the Trail Blazers star point guard. If you haven't heard it, you can listen to it below. 

If social media is to believed (and it is), fans loved D.O.L.L.A.'s latest track:

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little heard the track and only had one question for his new teammate:

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Nassir Little…. Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Nassir Little…. Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Nassir Shamai Little

BIRTHDAY: February 11th, 2000

AGE: 19

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Aquarius

Before Fame

Little hails from Orange Park, Florida, where he went to Orlando Christian Prep for High School.

Fun Facts

Little’s favorite food is Hibachi. On a Tar Heels social media Q & A last year, Little told UNC fans, “give me some Hibachi with some white sauce… that’s my go to.”

One of his hobbies is playing the piano.

Academics Played A Key Role

Little was the salutatorian of his senior class in High School and member of the National Honor Society.

Military Strong

Little is the son of Harold and April, who both served in the U.S. military.

In January of this year, sports editor Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of the Daily Tar Heel sat down with Little to talk about various on and off the court topics, including what it was like growing up with both of his parent having military backgrounds.

Interview Question: How did having military background parents sort of help you in staying disciplined because I know you're not just a great basketball player, you're a great student. You were the salutatorian of your high school, so how did they help you with that?

Little’s Answer: Growing up, I feel like, they did a lot of work as a child. They’re not really strict. People think, ‘You have military parents and they’re like sit up straight all the time,’ for me it wasn’t really like that it was just kind of like, just being courteous and being conscious and as I got older in middle school, I had a rough year academically. But my parents were never the type to like, get mad at me about it because it wasn’t nothing that they taught me, like it’s not their grades, so I looked at myself in the mirror and I guess it’s just something in me, and I looked at myself and I said, ‘I want to do better.’ So I told myself that I’m going to do good for the rest of my high school, middle school, whatever career. Ever since that year, I started grinding, doing better in the classroom and I’ve been good ever since.

Subway Is About To Have A Big-Time Customer

Days ahead of the 2019 NBA draft, TMZ Sports caught up with Little before he was about to get on a flight out of Washington DC.

Little was nice enough to answer a number of random questions in the airport. He showed off his sense of humor when he was asked about what he plans on buying once he signs that first NBA contract.

Spoiler alert: He is about to “Eat Fresh” A LOT.

Instagram King

As a freshman in college, Little proved he can interact with fans and show his personality with the best of them.

UNC Fans were treated to a “get to know freshman Nassir Little in this exclusive, fan-submitted Q&A on UNC Basketball’s Instagram.”

Some of the IG questions included, why did he cut his hair, does he have good enough dance moves, and why he chose North Carolina.

Fans also found out that Little’s pregame playlist is all about Drake -- “Anything by Drake is fire.”

Get to know more about Little off the court right here with the Tar Heel Q & A:

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Over the weekend, Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler showed his respect for Damian Lillard.

Butler arrived at Sunday’s home game vs. the Colts wearing a Lillard-Trail Blazers statement jersey.

Erik Bacharach of The Tennessean shared the video on social media.

Monday morning, Lillard showed his gratitude on Twitter.

Could we see Butler at the Moda Center this upcoming season rooting on Lillard and the Blazers? You would think he would want to rock the jersey in Rip City.  

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any Lillard Time magic on Sunday as the Titans fell to the Colts, 19-17.