Nikola Jokic didn’t take the bait during MVP’s reign, even though he was sitting there for him.
After recording a first-half double-double in his first real game in months, Jokic didn’t want to add to his casual timing. When asked if he planned to skip next year’s training camp, Joker laughed.
“We’ll see, brother,” Jokic said after missing the team’s training camp in San Diego to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter.
Jokic rejoined the Nuggets last Sunday, went through a normal pre-game workout before Monday’s game in Los Angeles, practiced with the team on Tuesday and made his debut against the Warriors on Wednesday night. He picked up Golden State for 17 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks, while his teammates dropped a few more assists on the court.
The last time we saw Jokic, he was exhausted and exhausted in the second-round series finale against the Denver Suns. On Wednesday, he was his normal flair, working elbows, directing traffic with his eyes and controlling Denver’s offense as his central hub.
With the Jokers available, it was no surprise that the Nuggets logged 28 assists versus Golden State, which was far more encouraging than the 20 they registered against the Clippers on Monday. With that, even without Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. available due to injury, the offense flowed naturally.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, “Obviously, a lot is expected of you when you’re the current MVP, and he got out there and picked up just like he never missed a beat.” “Moving the ball, scoring in the post, making plays, and I thought he had some good defensive assets as well.”
Unsurprisingly, Malone may have reinforced Jokic’s argument for missing next year’s camp. With both families in Denver, Jokic wasn’t thrilled to leave his wife and daughter at home, but he also wasn’t worried about what he might have missed in San Diego.
“I know all the plays, I know all the calls we have,” Jokic said. “I think I didn’t lose in that segment. I just miss being around people. “
Before the team departed for California, Jokic participated in unofficial pick-up games, where he became aware of the latest possible draft heist at Bones Highland, Denver. His praise for the miscreants late on Wednesday night was no less than a glow.
“He can pick up the pace,” Jokic said. “I think it’s his good ability. He likes to play for the team, for each other. I love that ability. He can shoot. He needs to learn the game a little bit, everybody else. Like who came in as a rookie. I like the ability that he has. I like the way he’s thinking. I like how he wants to listen to other players and other coaches. “
Without the fear-in-the-headlights approach once a rookie, Hyland has had a standout preseason. With MVP’s backing, who’s to say whether or not Hyland can crack the rotation this season? In just two games, he has already attracted the attention of both Malone and Jokic, the two most important voices in the Nuggets operation.