Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic is trying to pick up the pieces of an injury-plagued second season in the NBA, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. After earning second-team all-rookie honors in 2014/15, Nurkic has seen his playing time and effectiveness limited by an aching left knee. He had surgery during the offseason to repair a partially torn patellar tendon, but the knee hasn’t responded the way he hoped it would. He is averaging 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in just 23 games. “I can’t control this stuff,” Nurkic said. “When I hear my name I go in. I haven’t heard it a lot this season for some reason, but I will be a professional until the end and try to finish the season the right way.” In October, Denver picked up his option for 2016/17 at $1,921,320. He also has a team option for 2017/18 at $2,947,305.
There’s more news today out of Denver:
- Both Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic have strong cases to be first-team choices on this season’s all-rookie team, Dempsey contends in a separate story. Mudiay, the seventh player selected in the 2015 draft, leads NBA rookies in assists with 5.7 per game and is fourth in scoring average at 12.3 points per night. His main competition for first-team honors in the backcourt will come from the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell and the Suns’ Devin Booker, Dempsey believes. Jokic was a second-round pick in 2014 who played in the Adriatic and Serbian leagues before coming to the NBA. He ranks second among rookies behind the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns in player efficiency rating and is fourth in rebounding and eighth in scoring.
- The Nuggets don’t know if Danilo Gallinari will play again this season, but the injured small forward plans to be part of the Italian team in the Summer Olympics, according to Marco “Barzo” Barzizza of Eurosport [hat tip to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando]. Gallinari suffered two torn ligaments in his right ankle during a late February game. The injury was expected to keep him out of action for about a month, but the Nuggets may shut him down for the season even if he does recover. “I don’t know if I’ll be back before the end of the season,” Gallinari said. “I am very happy to be in Denver and before thinking about new teams I hope to win something here and to play for the Denver Nuggets for many years.”