Top Plays From Jusuf Nurkic’s Historic 5×5

Jusuf Nurkic became just the eleventh player in NBA history to record a 5×5 game, and his was the first with 20 points and 20 rebounds.

The 5×5 is a bit of boxscore-stuffing legend. The player need at least five of each of the five major stat categories: points, assists, rebounds, blocks, and steals.

Obviously it requires a certain bit of do-it-all-iness, and Nurkic added his name to a very exclusive list. Hakeem Olajuwon did it six times, Andrei Kirilenko three, and David Robinson and Vlade Divac each have one. The most recent members of the club are Anthony Davis and Draymond Green.

Let’s go stat by stat and pick out Nurkic’s best plays in the best game of his career.

24 Points

Nurkic only made five baskets on the night, mostly in the paint. Unsurprisingly, his loudest bucket of the game came after he blocked a shot on defense and then ran to the hoop on the other end.

Nurkic doesn’t play above the rim all that much, but his touch around it gets the job done just fine.

Another skill that sets Nurkic apart is his shooting, and his ability to drive. He’s difficult for other big men to guard in the triple threat, especially when he’s knocking down shots.

23 Rebounds

Rebounds are important, but most of Nurkic’s 23 were fairly boring. He did manage five on the offensive end, getting free throws on two of them. He scored more than half of his points at the line in this game, mainly by establishing great position down low and giving the defense no choice but to foul. He has a nice little jump hook for whenever he gets the ball near the cup.

7 Assists

The Bosnian center only averages three assists per game, but he’s capable of throwing some absolute dimes. This gentle, floating pass is right on time to the cutter. It’s like a perfect putt from 15 feet with a tough lie.

You don’t really expect that kind of feathery touch out of a seven footer. Not many guys his size can throw lobs on the move like this, either.

Nurk sees the floor very well from his high perch, especially when posting and facing up. His ability to whip an unblockable pass over his head right where it needs to go opens up a lot of opportunities for teammates.

5 Steals

Most big men don’t put up huge steal numbers because their defensive game is more about protecting the rim and less about harassing ball handlers on the perimeter. However, most big men don’t have the anticipation and quick hands of Jusuf Nurkic. Most centers won’t try for this play because the ball is too low, but that does not deter Nurk.

On this play, Nurkic jabs at the ball as soon as Hield can’t put it on the floor again. Once it’s loose, Nurk dives on the floor for it.

5 Blocks

Nurkic protected the rim against a variety of talented young players on the Kings. De’Aaron Fox might just be the quickest guy in the league with the ball in his hands, and when he burned a few Trail Blazers on the perimeter, Nurkic was there with the eraser.

Nurkic also stuffed Sacramento center Willie Cauley-Stein twice, both with the game on the line. Late in the fourth quarter with his team down 4, Nurkic swats Cauley-Stein’s shot and starts a fast break that leads to a layup. It’s a four point swing when Portland needed it most.

Then in overtime, Nurkic blocked Cauley-Stein again to keep the Blazers up 2 with under 30 seconds to play. He dropped back on the pick and roll to contain Fox’s drive, switched as soon as the pass came, and came up with an immaculate block that you just can’t teach.

Only the most versatile players in the world can put together a 5×5 game. On Wednesday night, Jusuf Nurkic showed us he’s one of them.

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