Since his first press conference as the new Portland Trail Blazers coach, Chauncey Billups had focused on Jusuf Nurkic’s potential.
Billups said to The Athletic that he expects an excellent season from the Bosnian big man.
“I’m excited to coach Nurk, I really am,” Billups said. “This dude is uber-talented, man. I said what I said (in the press conference), and I do believe we are going to get the best version of him this year.”
“I’ve been on him about things I need from him,” Billups said. “I said, ‘Nurk, I know you are going to be a free agent, and I understand you have to have a great year. You need me for you to have a great year, and I need you for us to have a good year. We need each other, right?’
“I’m going to give him every opportunity to have a great year. Because if he has a great year, that means we are a pretty damn good team. Because he is a good player. But that means he has to be focused and be in shape. Because you are only going to play as many minutes as you are physically able. If you are out there tired, uh-uh, come on, gotta get you out. There are good players behind you.”
Nurkic, who returned to Oregon two weeks before Training Camp, is looking forward to starting working with the new coach.
“This is my chance, and I know that,” Nurkic said. “And by that, I mean the chance I have always wanted, always worked for. All of my career I have wanted this feeling and the system around me. I can’t even explain how much excited I am with this opportunity.”
Last year the ‘Bosnian Beast’ averaged 11.4 points, 9 rebounds, 3.3 assist and 1.1 blocks in 37 games.