For the first time since joining Denver in 2015, Nuggets HC reflects on what altered his mind on NBA champ Nikola Jokic

Michael Malone, the head coach of the Denver Nuggets, recently appeared on the Lowe Post Podcast, where he talked about many things relating to their championship run the last season.

He also told about the first time he realized Nikola Jokic was special and changed his perception about the Joker, in which he mentioned a matchup between the Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs from Jokic’s rookie year.

Game against Spurs changed Malone’s view of Jokic

Michael Malone, head coach of the Denver Nuggets, recently spoke on the Lowe Post podcast, where he discussed the first time he realized Nikola Jokic had a rare talent.

During Jokic’s rookie year, he faced the great Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, when he recorded an amazing stat line. He stated, “My first Summer League was his first Summer League,” Malone said. “And not once during Summer League did I say we have something special… Coming out of Summer League, he was out of shape, overweight and you could tell he was skilled, great guy, loved his personality.

“But there was a game his rookie season against San Antonio in San Antonio with Tim Duncan and Nikola’s line was something like 26 points, 13 rebounds, eight or nine assists,” Malone continued. “And I’m like, he just did it against one of the best players to ever play the game. On the road as a young kid and he impacted the game across the board.

“But what really stood out to me during that rookie season is unselfishness and his IQ and his ability to make everyone around him better… That game in that year one as a rookie against San Antonio and Tim Duncan, it was really kind of for me when the light bulb went off.”

When compared to other great players, Nikola Jokic stands out due to his special ability to improve others around him. His focus on making the proper play was on full display throughout Denver’s championship run. Because of Joker’s ability to create plays, their opponents had a hard time guarding them. Jokic was a major contributor to the Nuggets’ victory.

When did Nikola Jokic join Michael Malone in Nuggets?

Since joining the Denver Nuggets in 2015, Nikola Jokic has flourished under the guidance of Michael Malone. The Serbian superstar gushed over Malone’s mentoring and the close bond the two had formed, calling it a “man basketball” connection. Gregg Popovich, the renowned coach of the San Antonio Spurs, advised Malone on how to deal with his players. Malone saw Jokic’s potential and decided to fly to Serbia to study him.

Since then, Nikola Jokic has spent eight seasons with the Nuggets, during which time he has played 596 games and averaged 20.2 pts, 10.5 rebs, and 6.6 asts per game. The two of them have worked well together, which has helped Jokic become one of the league’s best players.


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