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Don’t overlook Jusuf Nurkić’s performance against the Pelicans

© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Jusuf Nurkić was one assist shy of a double-double with only rebounds and assists in the Phoenix Suns’ 123-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans last night.

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All the eyes were on Devin Booker’s season-high 52 points, but Nurkić finished the night with five points, 16 rebounds, nine assists and was a team-high +30 in terms of plus/minus. These nine assists were a season high for Nurkić and one shy of his career high.

According to StatMuse, Nurkić already has the most 5/15/5 games (4) in a single season for the Suns since Charles Barkley.

As the Big 3 continues to stay healthy, it is very clear Nurkić is settling into his role on both sides of the ball. Nurkić now has 12+ rebounds in four straight games, and the Suns have won all four of them.

“Nurk(ić) had a great game,” Suns’ coach Frank Vogel said after last night’s win. “I mean, you can’t get guard this team, Zion Williamson, without having a big body in front of the rim most of the night, and Nurk did a great job with that.”

These four games come after Nurkić was benched in the second half in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 8. Nurkić made a bold statement to AZ Central’s Duane Rankin after this game, and safe to say, he has rebounded from this benching pretty well.

His teammates are also taking notice of his strong play, especially his playmaking. After Grayson Allen tied his career high and the Suns’ franchise record with nine threes against the Kings Tuesday, he credited Nurkić, who finished that game with 10 points, 15 rebounds and three assists.

“A lot of them were off of somebody else collapsing the defense (and) kicking it out,” Allen said after the win over the Kings. “Nurk made a lot of good passes being that roller, when they want to trap the ball, and we can get it to Nurk really quick on that half roll and let him be a decision-maker to finish at the rim, hit a cutter, hit someone in the corner for three, he did a great job of that tonight. A lot of them were assisted.”

The Suns have now won nine of their last 12 games. During these 12 games, Nurkić is averaging 12.3 points on 55.8% shooting, 11.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He has the second-highest plus/minus on the team in this stretch at +9.1.

For the season, Nurkić has averages of 12.2 points on 49% shooting, 10.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 39 games. 

According to, the Suns have their best offensive rating (120.6) and net rating (9.2) with Nurkić on the floor compared to any other player this season.

These numbers only figure to increase as the Suns build even more rhythm. Perhaps the most impressive stat with Nurkić is that he missed 0 games due to injury this season (missed two due to personal reasons) after missing at least 26 games every season since 2019.

Frank Vogel says Suns had best defensive performance all season from start to finish vs. Pelicans

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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