Fantasy Basketball Start and Sit: Week 20 Top 150 rankings favor Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic

Editor’s Note: Every week we will release the Top 150 players based on their projections for that scoring period. Use this list to compare players and help make those really tough decisions.

The Trail Blazers’ decision to trade away Mason Plumlee wasn’t a tank move necessarily, but it was clearly a move made with an eye beyond just the spring of 2017. The Blazers’ decision to go all-in on last year’s surprisingly competitive roster yielded fewer returns than expected and, with Plumlee heading for free agency this season, investing in another solid player who isn’t a difference maker just wasn’t in the cards.

Of course, it wasn’t just a straight salary dump because the Blazers received a first-round pick from the Nuggets and, perhaps most importantly, young center Jusuf Nurkic. Deemed expendable by the Nuggets with Nikola Jokic making the leap to superstardom, the Blazers opted to take a chance on Nurkic. So far, that has looked like the best investment they’ve made in years.

We’re only five games into the Nurkic Era in Portland, but he’s taken to the city like a flannel-clad hipster riding a fixed-gear bicycle. Nurkic made all five of his shots in 21 minutes off the bench in his Blazers debut, and has just kept rolling from there, averaging 14.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 3.6 combined blocks and steals per game with the Blazers, while playing 30 minutes per game.

The loss of Plumlee was supposed to have left a playmaking void at the pivot for the Blazers, especially with Nurkic having only shown intermittent flashes of high-level passing ability during his inconsistent time with the Nuggets. However, Nurkic has more than held his own in this regard, nearly doubling his assist rate since getting to the Blazers, to 20.4 percent.

These don’t seem to just be empty numbers, either, as the Blazers have a net rating of 19.1 with Nurkic on the floor, despite being outscored overall over the last five games. That might overstate things just a bit -- it might be more of an indictment on the quality of the team’s backups -- but all signs point to Nurkic being a clear difference maker thus far.

He fits well with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, thanks to his bruising screens and the space they create. Lillard has a 60.6 True Shooting percentage with Nurkic on the floor, while McCollum’s is at an even more insane 66.0 percent. Even with standard caveats regarding sample size, that’s a very good sign if you’re at all leery about trusting Nurkic’s play so far. Fitting with the franchise cornerstones is going to be the most important thing, and all signs indicate Nurkic fits like a glove.

We have, of course, seen solid stretches from Nurkic in the past, most notably as a rookie, when he forced his way into the starting lineup by averaging 12.5-7.7-1.2-1.3-3.2 over a six-game stretch in just 22.8 minutes, so there’s a chance this is just another flash in the pan. However, given the Blazers’ other options -- or lack thereof -- this is the first time in Nurkic’s career he has nothing blocking his path to Fantasy relevance.

Nurkic sure looks like a must-start Fantasy option right now, and that is already a huge win for those of you who picked him up off waivers. It looks like an even bigger win in light of a very favorable schedule in Week 20 (March 6-12), which sees the Blazers play five times. This is going to work out better for you than it has for the Blazers, which is saying something. 

 5 games: POR
3 games: DAL, MEM, UTA, TOR, LAL, NOR, OKC

Week 20 Sportsline Projections
1Damian Lillard, PG, POR515.
2James Harden, SG, HOU411.
3LeBron James, SF, CLE45.
4CJ McCollum, SG, POR513.
5John Wall, PG, WAS44.54.610.
6Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC36.
7Eric Bledsoe, PG, PHO47.
8Karl-Anthony Towns, C, MIN44.612.
9Stephen Curry, PG, GS416.
10Chris Paul, PG, LAC47.
11Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, MIL42.
12Isaiah Thomas, PG, BOS411.
13Blake Griffin, PF, LAC41.
14Kawhi Leonard, SF, SA47.
15Kemba Walker, PG, CHA410.
16Jimmy Butler, SG, CHI44.
17Kyrie Irving, PG, CLE48.
18Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY47.
19Hassan Whiteside, C, MIA40.
20Goran Dragic, PG, MIA46.
21Draymond Green, PF, GS45.
22Paul George, SF, IND48.
23Nikola Jokic, PF, DEN42.
24Andrew Wiggins, SF, MIN45.
25Paul Millsap, PF, ATL44.
26Nicolas Batum, SF, CHA47.
27Jeff Teague, PG, IND44.
28Dennis Schroder, PG, ATL45.
29Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL40.810.
30Andre Drummond, C, DET40.
31Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN43.
32Devin Booker, SG, PHO48.
33LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, SA41.
34Jusuf Nurkic, C, POR50.
35Klay Thompson, SG, GS413.
36Bradley Beal, SG, WAS410.
37Al Horford, C, BOS43.
38Dwyane Wade, SG, CHI42.
39Derrick Rose, PG, NY41.
40DeMarcus Cousins, C, NO34.
41Brook Lopez, C, BKN44.
42Kristaps Porzingis, PF, NY46.
43Reggie Jackson, PG, DET45.
44Anthony Davis, PF, NO31.310.
45DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC40.
46DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR31.
47T.J. McConnell, PG, PHI40.
48Dwight Howard, C, ATL40.
49Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, POR57.
50Tyreke Evans, PG, SAC44.
51Darren Collison, PG, SAC46.
52Myles Turner, PF, IND41.
53Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA36.
54Elfrid Payton, PG, ORL41.
55Marc Gasol, C, MEM33.
56Pau Gasol, C, SA41.
57Tobias Harris, SF, DET45.
58Mike Conley, PG, MEM36.
59Marcin Gortat, C, WAS40.
60Evan Fournier, SF, ORL47.
61Avery Bradley, SG, BOS48.
62Tyler Johnson, SG, MIA44.
63Markieff Morris, PF, WAS43.
64Ish Smith, PG, DET41.
65Ty Lawson, PG, SAC42.
66Greg Monroe, C, MIL40.
67Marcus Morris, PF, DET46.
68Rajon Rondo, PG, CHI42.
69Khris Middleton, SG, MIL46.
70Tony Parker, PG, SA41.
71Dario Saric, SF, PHI45.
72Dion Waiters, SG, MIA46.
73Jeremy Lin, PG, BKN45.
74Maurice Harkless, SF, POR55.
75Lou Williams, SG, HOU49.
76Gorgui Dieng, PF, MIN40.
77Thaddeus Young, SF, IND42.
78Danilo Gallinari, SF, DEN46.
79Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, DET48.
80Wilson Chandler, PF, DEN45.
81Marcus Smart, PG, BOS44.
82Jahlil Okafor, C, PHI40.
83Jameer Nelson, PG, DEN46.
84Mason Plumlee, C, DEN40.
85Patrick Beverley, PG, HOU46.
86Eric Gordon, SG, HOU411.
87Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, CHA40.
88Jae Crowder, SF, BOS46.
89Rudy Gobert, C, UTA30.
90Malcolm Brogdon, SG, MIL43.
91D’Angelo Russell, PG, LAL36.
92Robert Covington, SF, PHI48.
93Otto Porter, SF, WAS46.
94Harrison Barnes, SF, DAL33.
95George Hill, PG, UTA36.
96T.J. Warren, SF, PHO41.
97Clint N’Dumba-Capela, C, HOU40.
98Julius Randle, PF, LAL30.
99Aaron Gordon, PF, ORL43.
100Allen Crabbe, SG, POR58.
101Frank Kaminsky, PF, CHA45.
102Willy Hernangomez, C, NY40.
103Will Barton, SG, DEN44.
104Victor Oladipo, SG, OKC35.
105Trevor Ariza, SF, HOU47.
106Marvin Williams, PF, CHA46.
107Jrue Holiday, PG, NO34.
108Zach Randolph, PF, MEM30.
109Ryan Anderson, PF, HOU49.
110Sergio Rodriguez, PG, PHI46.
111Tristan Thompson, C, CLE40.
112Cody Zeller, C, CHA40.
113Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL34.
114Alex Len, C, PHO40.
115Trevor Booker, PF, BKN41.
116Wesley Matthews, SG, DAL38.
117Robin Lopez, C, CHI40.
118Sean Kilpatrick, SG, BKN45.
119Zaza Pachulia, C, GS40.
120Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG47.
121JJ Redick, SG, LAC49.
122Seth Curry, SG, DAL36.
123Andre Iguodala, SF, GS43.
124Courtney Lee, SG, NY45.
125Serge Ibaka, PF, TOR34.
126Michael Beasley, PF, MIL41.
127Kent Bazemore, SF, ATL44.
128Channing Frye, PF, CLE48.
129Meyers Leonard, PF, POR56.
130Cory Joseph, PG, TOR31.
131Bojan Bogdanovic, SG, WAS46.
132Jon Leuer, PF, DET42.
133Kelly Olynyk, C, BOS44.
134Gerald Henderson, SG, PHI43.
135Buddy Hield, SG, SAC48.
136Josh Richardson, SG, MIA46.
137Jonas Valanciunas, C, TOR30.
138Jeff Green, PF, ORL43.
139Matthew Dellavedova, SG, MIL43.
140Yogi Ferrell, PG, DAL34.
141Jordan Clarkson, PG, LAL34.
142Kyle Korver, SG, CLE410.
143Ersan Ilyasova, PF, ATL45.
144Derrick Williams, SF, CLE44.
145Willie Cauley-Stein, C, SAC40.
146Danny Green, SG, SA47.
147Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SG, BKN40.
148Derrick Favors, PF, UTA30.
149Gary Harris, SG, DEN45.
150Arron Afflalo, SG, SAC45.

Fantasy Writer

Though he can be found covering three different sports depending on the time of year, there is one unifying theme in how Chris Towers approaches sports; "Where's the evidence?" It doesn't matter how outlandish... Full Bio

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