The Denver Nuggets traded out of the lottery and still got the guy they most likely would have taken at 11 in Jusuf Nurkic at 16th overall.
Nurkic is a behemoth. There’s not really another way to describe him. He’s 6’11, 280 lbs, and no one can out-physical him in the paint. And the scary part is that he’s only 19 years old. This guy is not done growing. My guess is that by the time he comes over to the NBA he is the size of a small recreational vehicle.
Like, Dario Saric, Nurkic was in the Adriatic League. He played for Cedevita, a Croatian team located in Zagreb. His advanced metrics are absolutely insane. As a 19 year old, Nurkic has a 35.2 PER while averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds per game in 16 minutes. It’s also worth mentioning he put up those numbers by getting to the line nearly six times per game in those 16 minutes, and shooting 70%. Those numbers are quite literally insane. His per-40s are even more ridiculous averages of 28.2 points and 13.6 rebounds.
You may be asking why he only played 16 minutes per game right now, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The problem is that he averaged nearly eight fouls per-40 minutes, so he couldn’t stay on the floor. This isn’t really surprising for a 19 year old that is 280 lbs. He’s still growing into his body, and eventually you would think the fouls will start to dissipate as he matures.
Nurkic will actually be joining the Nuggets immediately and not staying in Croatia for another season. It’s probably a good idea, as getting him on a proper nutritional plan is probably going to be an essential part of his development. I’d imagine he probably won’t have much of an impact as a rookie, but this is a pick that could really pay off for Denver down the road. We’ll discuss more about how he ended up in Denver in the 19th overall pick reaction post.