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Denver Nuggets: Unleash the Beast - Jusuf Nurkic is proving them wrong

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As Jusuf Nurkic begins his third campaign for the Denver Nuggets, his consistently hard work is starting to pay dividends on the court, to the delight of Nurkic and Nuggets fans alike.

NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Toronto Raptors Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

"Mike Olson, you are the Metamucil of Denver Stiffs."

Good god. Was this utterance:

  • A) The phrase I say to myself in the mirror before I get dressed every morning
  • B) My proctologist’s favorite phrase when I pay her a visit
  • C) One of the funnier things I’ve ever heard Jeff Morton say, as he was describing the consistency with which I write for the site
  • D) All of the above

It’s C, thank god, as I’d be looking for a new proctologist.

Consistency isn’t the worst thing that ever happened to a guy, as third-year center Jusuf Nurkic (@nurkic23) is also showing the Denver Nuggets. Nurk played nearly every game of the preseason, so we’ve had several opportunities to watch him play. Here are his first nine performances since returning from a sometimes-seismic sophomore season with a chip on his shoulder:

Nurkic averages a double-double thus far, including preseason
Nurkic averages a double-double thus far, including preseason

Jusuf has been nothing shy of special thus far, a beast and terror on the glass and rim, with at least one assist in every game as well. But he saved his best to start the season, with a career-high 23 points against the New Orleans Pelicans last night.

And it’s not as if there’s not plenty more room to grow. Nurkic cost himself several points last night, by rushing shots and passes alike. It’s obvious the young center is still finding his rhythm on many plays, but seems to be dialing it in quickly this year. When he does find it, he’ll be even tougher to contend with on a nightly basis.

Nurkic’s passing is nearly as good as that of his Balkan buddy, Nikola Jokic. The early experiments of the two bigs rotating the ball as an offensive hub have been primarily positive, including a stretch against Golden State that was near poetry. Nurk’s brains and temperament portend even better things with his peak still years away.

One of the biggest contributors to Nurkic’s fast start this year was a summer spent working with Nuggets strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess. There was even a lot of hard work put in back in Bosnia over his break, with Jusuf showing up for training camp in the best shape of his career. Nurkic made a point to say thanks Hess and announce to the media that he was ready for better things this season:

Nurkic’s #ProveThemWrong tag speaks volumes about the nature of the conversational shift around his playing prospects, watching a rookie campaign that had fans salivating devolve into a sophomore season of hits and misses, the Bosnian has gone through both ends of the fan’s love/hate dichotomy. Even with some great bounce-back moments last season, that rookie year sure was sweet:

Another tweet of Nurkic’s tells a lot about where he’s finding that sense of self-surety these days:

With strong intentions of a redefining season on the horizon, it will be interesting to see what the conversation is about him by season’s end. If he keeps playing as consistently as he’s started the season, the words will be far loftier than Metamucil*.

*I’m still laughing. Morton’s magnificent metaphors.