DENVER (AP) – Jamal Murray noticed his twice MVP Kia NBA teammate within the open air and shortly shouted at him.
“Catch me a grape,” the Denver Nuggets level guard mentioned as Nikola Jokic walked over to a fruit platter Monday at media day.
With that, Jokic delivered his first help of the season.
Jokic could have his supporting solid again and wholesome this season, with Murray feeling higher “evening and day” after lacking all of final yr whereas recovering from an ACL damage. So is Michael Porter Jr., after being restricted to only 9 video games a yr in the past on account of a backlash.
With the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope commerce and Bruce Brown signing, plus the expansion of high-energy guard Bones Hyland, the Nuggets have massive aspirations this season — even when they’re hesitant to say it out loud.
“We all know what we wish to do,” mentioned Brown, whose group begins coaching camp Tuesday in San Diego. “So there is no such thing as a must say it.”
All of it begins within the center with Jokic, who signed a supermax extension within the offseason. He is attempting to affix the corporate of Larry Chicken, Invoice Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as gamers who’ve received the MVP trophy three consecutive seasons.
One space the Nuggets wish to see him take to a different degree — his vocal recreation.
“Everyone seems to be ready for him to say one thing,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned. “And when he does, it has a profound impression.”
The low-key frontman desires to be the “Tim Duncan of the Denver Nuggets,” Jokic mentioned. “However I must win a couple of championships to be him.”
He has the crew round him to race.
Shortly after buying Aaron Gordon in March 2021, the Nuggets confirmed flashes of what they might do with a roster comprised of Gordon, Murray, Porter and Jokic. They went 4-1 earlier than Murray tore his anterior cruciate ligament at Golden State. Final season, they misplaced Porter after the skin menace suffered one other again surgical procedure.
“I am trying to construct chemistry with that,” mentioned Gordon, whose group misplaced to NBA champion Golden State Warriors within the first spherical final season. “It is going to be good to know… how the sport works and who will get what, the place and when, how and why – we nonetheless must put all these questions collectively. It is gonna be enjoyable.
Particularly with Murray trying extra like his outdated self.
“He received that confidence again. He received that swagger again,” Malone mentioned. “Seeing him in our gymnasium, taking part in with that confidence and chirping, has been enjoyable to observe.”
Murray will not be placing expectations on his return. The Nuggets missed the playoff model of Murray, who had two 50-point bursts in 2020 when the Nuggets superior to the Western Convention Finals.
“I take it someday at a time and everybody all the time asks me what it may be like in two months. I do not know,” Murray mentioned. “I am heading in the right direction.”
Similar with Porter.
“Accidents, it simply takes time, I’d say, to have pleasure within the recreation once more, no ache or something,” Porter mentioned. “It is good to be on the opposite facet. I’m right here now and I’ve no limitations. I am excited.”
In July, the Nuggets picked up Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith from Washington for Monte Morris and Will Barton. Caldwell-Pope is trying ahead to working with Jokic, who is thought for his no-look passes.
“So I’ll maintain my eyes on him always,” Caldwell-Pope mentioned.