Nikola Jokic just had one of the better off-seasons of any rookie in the NBA. He won a silver medal with his home country of Serbia and was picked 3rd best rookie of the year by NBA.com. Among rookies, he was 4th in rebounding, 5th in FG%, 7th in blocking, 8th in scoring, and an amazing 6th in assists. From all angles, Jokic is a production beast and is a threat from any corner of the game. It was a dream come true for any young basketball enthusiast and seemed all uphill from there. But despite his early success during his rookie season, Jokic is off to a lackluster start in the 2016-17 NBA season.
The appropriately hyped Serbian giant has not put up great numbers in the Nuggets first 10 games. He's only averaging 8.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a minuscule 0.2 blocks in 21.7 minutes of playtime per game. Compared to his final stats of 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 0.6 blocks in 23 minutes of playtime per game. Not to mention his personal foul numbers have gone from 2.6 to 3.4 per game. Something is clearly off with Jokic and it's up to him and coach Malone to figure out what's going on.
Malone has some hurtfully true things to say about the issue of Nikola Jokic in the Denver Nuggets roster. “I feel like I've done him a disservice” Coach said after the Nuggets loss to Detroit at home. Malone has been experimented with the so-called “Jurkic” combo by moving Jokic to the 4 spot and allowing Jusuf Nurkic to take over at Center. The experiment has not been going well. Jokic playing the 4 has been a major weakness of his game so far this season, but Nurkic has been exploding in his new role this year, averaging 10.8 points, 8 rebounds, and a block & a half per game. Malone has already made his choice to abolish this said Jurkic combo and explore other options to using the Eastern European big man duo. Nuggets Nation should feel great about this move, at the very least the roster has 2 dominate and aspiring big men for any amount of lineups.
The problems with Jokic should come as an alarm, and then slowly fade into a somewhat neutral feeling. The Nuggets are off to a rough 3-7 start and going 1-2 at home so far. The Franchise is still growing and Malone is doing what he can to come to a conclusion on efficient lineups to run the entirety of the 48-minute game. Not to mention how great it is Denver has a coach willing to admit his failed experiments and be open to finding a better solution. From this point onwards the fans can only hope moving Jokic back to the Center position will not only make his game better than last year, but contribute to some much needed wins for the Nuggets.