It’s been two weeks since Michael Malone told local reporters that he wanted to start calling fewer plays. It was a nod to last season when the team ran relatively simple actions in transition and in the half court, relying on a set of basic spacing, cutting, and screening principles. The Nuggets free-flowing, read-and-react offense was good enough to lead the Nuggets to the league’s most efficient offense for four months straight last season, led by the decision making, passing, and scoring of Nikola Jokic. Malone wanted to get back to that and was ready to trust his young team once again to execute in the half court.
Since then, Nikola Jokic is averaging 18.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 8.8 assists and the Denver Nuggets are 4-2 with their two losses coming against the Eastern Conference leading Boston Celtics and the consistently good San Antonio Spurs by a combined 3 points. In other words, the Nuggets have been good and Jokic has looked like his old self.
On Thursday night, with the team playing on national TV and in front of the NBA world, Jokic put up his most impressive night yet. The box score stats were ridiculous. 29 points, 13 rebound, 14 assists. The highlights were even more ridiculous. That first quarter, Jokic looked like Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol all in one. And of course, the game’s final shot came off of a Jokic assist on the inbound, a pass that caught the attention of Paul George after the game. “Really, really great find from Jokic.”
Check out the highlights below. Joker is back and that means Nuggets basketball is back.