Each weekday, our DNVR Nuggets crew will be tackling one question about the Nuggets season in a round table format. Members, leave the questions that you’d like to see our writers answer in the comments section below and Harrison, Adam and Brendan will address them on an upcoming episode of the DNVR Nuggets Podcast.
What is the most encouraging development from the incomplete regular season?
Brendan: Jokić embracing reality
Before the regular season started, Nikola Jokić told Altitude TV's Vic Lombardi that he "can be the Tim Duncan of Denver Nuggets," igniting the embers of nascent fantasies throughout the city. It's not just the idea of Jokić spending his entire career in a Nuggets jersey that's so enticing. In essence, it's the idea that, like Tim Duncan, he might commit to a healthy basketball culture and a willingness to lead by example. Jokić isn't particularly vocal or overstated, but he still has time to settle into his style of leadership. I believe something sunk in for him this season. If cared to attentively, the seeds planted might bud in the years to come.
The Big Man didn't have it in November. He came into camp significantly overweight, and he was in a historic shooting slump to start the regular season. He looked distant, irritable, and frankly, unwilling to climb out of whatever hole he fell. But something clicked after the Nuggets dropped their first meeting with the Lakers in Pepsi Center. He admitted to being in a slump for the first time, and acknowledged he wasn't thrilled with how things looked offensively. He took the blame, and then something clicked.
His mood began to change in the locker room and his media availabilities. His shot started to fall, first from around the rim, then the mid-range, and eventually from deep. He began lifting directly after every game and quickly shed the extra weight. We've heard head coach Micahel Malone speak about Jokić's growth as a leader and how he's learning how to talk to his teammates; how to share his knowledge of the game.
There's still plenty to be desired. Jokić is mercurial and slips in and out of levels of high engagement. He doesn't always seem willing or able to manufacture a sense of urgency across 82 games, and sometimes poor body-language supersedes a more healthy expression of frustration. But we saw and heard from a player that is embracing the myriad responsibilities that come with his talent.