Portland Trail Blazer center Jusuf Nurkic has suffered a non-displaced fibula fracture, the team announced following an MRI on Friday. Portland has had a 14-5 record since acquire Nurkic in February.
The injury typically forces players to miss a minimum of four weeks, according to the Fantasy Doctor’s Dr. Selene Parekh. Nurkic’s fracture is not shifted, which would make the injury far worse and require him to miss extended time.
Regardless, he should be dropped in all league considering his timetable has him returning after the season ends.
Nurkic had been averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game since joining the Trail Blazers. This was a major jump in from averaging 8 points and five rebounds per game with the Nuggets this season. The rise of Nikola Jokic had overshadowed Nurkic when with Denver, but he had found a new home in Portland. He has added a much needed post-game to the team’s offense as well as being tasked with rim protection duties.
The Trail Blazers do not have a true center backing Nurkic up. Meyers Leonard is really a stretch four and not much of a rim protector, but he is a seven footer. Leonard is having a rough season, he is averaging career lows in field goal and three-point percentage. But the team will look to him to step into the center position.
Noah Vonleh, who has been playing power forward next to Nurkic, could get some time at center as well, forcing Portland into a smaller lineup. Vonleh has seen his minutes rise in March and is taking advantage. He is averaging six points and seven rebounds in his 22 minutes per game this month. However, neither Leonard and Vonleh are strong fantasy assets because Portland tends to not involve its big men in the offense unless Nurkic is playing. Using them serves as a major risk in fantasy playoffs.
The injury is a major blow to Portland, but not only because of what he added on the court, but also because he has been a very motivated individual that has made beating his former team out for the eight seed personal. Denver will certainly not mind Nurkic’s revenge tour coming to an end, considering he is directly affecting their playoff hopes. Portland leads Denver by half a game. The injury could be the Trail Blazer’s undoing.