The Portland Trail Blazers saw their season come to an end on Monday night at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. The Blazers fought valiantly in their Western Conference Finals matchup, but in the end, the Dubs showed why they are the two-time defending champions en route to a series sweep.
While the Warriors did this without Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, and eventually Andre Iguodala, the Blazers were without a major piece of their rotation. Starting center Jusuf Nurkic was outstanding this year before going down with a season-ending leg injury, and while guys like Zach Collins, Enes Kanter, and Meyers Leonard performed admirably in his absence, none of them were able to impact the game on both ends quite like Nurkic.
In fact, Nurkic was so good that Damian Lillard believes having him would have completely changed things for Portland. Lillard met with the media on Tuesday and made it clear that he thinks this Blazers bunch with a healthy Nurkic could have topped the Warriors en route to being a championship-winning side.
Nurkic was great this year, and while it’s impossible to say for sure whether or not he’d turn them into a championship team, he certainly would have been a big boost for Portland. The good news for the Blazers is that all of Lillard, Nurkic, and C.J. McCollum will be back next year, and if the big man can get back up to speed, Portland should be a formidable side in the Western Conference again.