In fact, Hess' final project with Denver centered around Jokic — the Nuggets' 6-foot-11 Serbian center who spent his offseason back home with family, friends, and of course, the fiery South African. Hess was in Sombor, Serbia, for nearly two weeks in June ensuring the 22-year-old got stronger and refined his body ahead of a pivotal third season in Denver.
"He got stronger. He just worked out right now with an amazing pull-up," Hess said on the Vic Lombardi Show on Altitude 950. "He's going to be a beast. This cat got stronger. He got ridiculously stronger. He's faster, more agile. I'm so excited to see him (next season), I can't even wait."
After Denver's first practice following last season's All-Star break, Jokic said he was "really tired." Michael Malone confirmed Jokic's second-half fatigue, citing that there was "a lot of pressure" on Jokic's shoulders and maybe that was getting to the young big man.
"I know he’s tired," Malone said in February. "He went down to the All-Star break fatigued and was obviously very busy down there. But we have to play through him more and the guys around him have to help him out."
Hess' travels to Serbia and the program he's likely laid out for Jokic, who is now back in Denver for the remainder of the summer, will try to continue to build muscle and prevent fatigue from setting in again next year. Jokic is slated for more minutes and an even larger role, so he'll need the added strength.
A true member of Nuggets' royalty, Hess will be remembered as the most energetic and positive person in any room he walked into. His attitude and drive will certainly be missed around Pepsi Center and Denver's facility. He is replaced by Felipe Eichenberger, the Nuggets' assistant strength coach for the last five seasons.
"On my casket, I'm going to have 'Nuggets' tattooed on it," Hess said.