August is usually the most barren month for anything NBA, therefore we happily welcome the 15 day Olympic basketball tournament. It not only provides basketball fans an opportunity to support their country, it also provides NBA fans a chance to watch their favorite players play on a different stage, wearing a different jersey, often playing in different roles.
The Nuggets have two representatives at this year's Olympics, Nikola Jokic and Joffrey Lauvergne. Both are required to play pivotal roles for their countries, Jokic the starting center for Serbia and Lauvergne being the first guy off of the bench for France. Jokic has been playing like a house on fire recently, doing it all whether it be scoring, rebounding or getting involved in altercations with Alexis Ajinca. Joffrey has had a quieter qualifying campaign, scoring double digits occasionally and racking up over 10 minutes a game.
Serbia plays France on the 10th of August and is going to be a fantastic match to watch for Nuggets fans, as it is a rare chance to see two teammates square up against each other in a competitive match. The fact that they both play similar positions will make it a true contest. Let's all hope Jokic calls a couple of isolation plays for himself and takes Lauvergne to the rack! Or that Joffrey tries to beast Jokic on the offensive glass.
The Olympics (and the FIBA Wolrd Cup) have provided the stage for several NBA players to break onto the national stage. Sarunas Jasikevicius led a 4th quarter comeback to help Lithuania beat team USA in 2004. Ricky Rubio impressed in 2008 as a 17 year old playing for Spain and going toe-to-toe with players like Jason Kidd and Chris Paul. The main thing I'm looking forward to is how Jokic and Lauvergne handle the spotlight. Representing your country is one of the highest honors in sports. Hopefully the young Nuggets will get chances like those two got and will come up big on the biggest stage of their careers to date.
In the end no matter the result this is all valuable experience for these guys which could help fast-track their development, so make sure you tune in and support your Nuggets!
Game 1 - vs Australia, 6th of August at 2:15pm Local time (11:15am MDT)
Game 2 - vs China, 8th of August at 10:30pm Local time (7:30pm MDT)
Game 3 - vs Serbia, 10th of August at 2:15pm Local time (11:15am MDT)
Game 4 - vs Venezuela, 12th of August at 10:30pm Local time (7:30pm MDT)
Game 5 - vs USA, 14th of August at 2:15pm Local time (11:15am MDT)
Game 1 - vs Venezuela, 6th of August at 10:30pm Local time (7:30pm MDT)
Game 2 - vs Australia, 8th of August at 2:15pm Local time (11:15am MDT)
Game 3 - vs France, 10th of August at 2:15pm Local time (11:15am MDT)
Game 4 - vs USA, 12th of August at 7:00pm Local time (4:00pm MDT)
Game 5 - vs China, 14th of August at 10:30pm Local time (7:30pm MDT)