Nikola Jokic

World Cup Final Notes: Germany, Schröder, Serbia, Bogdanovic

Raptors guard Dennis Schröder has helped lead the German national team to a perfect 7-0 record at the 2023 World Cup ahead of Sunday’s final against Serbia. Germany’s captain says he hopes he’s helping basketball become more popular in his home country, as Aris Barkas of Eurhoops relays.

I hope that basketball gets to be little bit more attractive and gets more attention,” Schröder said. “Because I’ve been here 10 years now, and from that point to this point, it’s a huge difference. And I’m glad that I can be a part of it. And try to put Germany, our country, on the map. And that’s the reason why I play a national team. I try to help others, like little guys coming up, same as me, 15 years ago. That they can make a difference take care of their families and play on big stages.”

The 30-year-old, who has averaged 17.9 points, 6.7 assists and 1.4 steals thus far at the tournament (27.9 minutes), says doesn’t feel nervous ahead of the gold medal game, according to Barkas.

I mean, when you play basketball, you compete on the highest level anyway,” said Schröder. “Every summer game, it’s the same game for me. Of course, it’s the World Cup, it’s a big honor to play in the finals. It’s something special, but at the end of the day, it’s still a game.”

Here’s more on tomorrow’s final:

  • Magic big man Moritz Wagner says Germany’s upset over Team USA in the semifinal was a major milestone for the country, writes Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. “Germany just made the World Cup final… I think this is the biggest win in German basketball history,” said Wagner, who finished with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting in 13 minutes in the victory.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic has been Serbia’s best player at the World Cup, and he says he’s thrilled to have secured another medal for the national team, which can finish no worse than second place (silver). “I’m really happy and grateful, and also happy for this team,” the Hawks swingman said, per George Efkarpides of Eurhoops. “I know how much effort we put in since day one; the coach was really hard on us, it was tough for me too. Being out of the national team for a couple of years, I forgot how it is. That struggle. In the NBA you have a guy to bring you towels, this and that, here you kind of have to do everything by yourself. We went through all this and made it to the finals.” Asked about Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, who chose to rest this summer after winning the NBA title, Bogdanovic said the Serbian star “texts us after every game.”
  • Serbian head coach Svetislav Pesic led Germany to its lone EuroBasket gold medal in 1993. According to Barkas of Eurhoops, Pesic says he has fond memories of his time with the German Basketball Federation and respects the current group. “Both teams deserved to be in the final,” Pevic said. “Both teams demonstrated team basketball. I have, of course, and not only me but everybody, big respect for the German team. The German team is one team whose most important quality is continuity. They have played together for five years. This is a generational team and they played together excellently. They demonstrated one more time here in Manila.”

International Notes: Serbia, Bahamas, Gordon, Croatia

The Serbian national team has officially announced its 12-man roster for the 2023 World Cup, which tips off on Friday (Twitter link). The Serbians are missing star center Nikola Jokic, along with accomplished veteran guard Vasilije Micic, who made the move from the EuroLeague to the NBA this offseason.

However, the squad still features multiple current and former NBA players, starting with Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. Heat forward Nikola Jovic, Sixers big man Filip Petrusev, and former Grizzlies guard Marko Guduric are among the notable players representing Serbia at this year’s World Cup.

Here are a few more notes from around the international basketball world:

  • The Bahmas defeated Argentina on Sunday in the final of an Olympic pre-qualifying tournament, with Suns guard Eric Gordon scoring a game-high 27 points, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Following the Bahamian victory, former NBA forward Andres Nocioni – who won an Olympic gold medal with Argentina in 2004 – questioned whether it was fair for FIBA to allow Gordon to suit up for the Bahamas despite representing Team USA earlier in his international career (Twitter link). “Let’s not lose the essence of international competitions,” Nocioni added in a follow-up tweet.
  • A Croatian team led by Warriors forward Dario Saric and Clippers center Ivica Zubac scored an upset victory over Alperen Sengun and Turkey in the final of another Olympic pre-qualifying tournament on Sunday, as Eurohoops details. Croatia, the Bahamas, Cameroon, Poland, and Bahrain won this month’s pre-qualifying tournament to secure spots in next year’s Olympic qualifiers.
  • Vangelis Papadimitriou of Eurohoops highlights a handful of non-U.S. NBA players who could be difference-makers in this year’s World Cup, including Canadian forward RJ Barrett and Dominican big man Karl-Anthony Towns.

Nikola Jokic Reportedly Won’t Play In 2023 World Cup

Following a championship run with the Nuggets this spring, star center Nikola Jokic won’t suit up for Serbia in this summer’s World Cup, according to a report from Dejan Stankovic of Mozzart Sport.

As Stankovic details, there had been skepticism that Jokic would be available for Serbia at the World Cup after he played into mid-June with Denver. Mozzart Sport’s reporting indicates that the two-time NBA MVP has informed the Serbian national team of his decision and will get some extra rest in advance of training camp.

New Thunder guard Vasilije Micic – who signed a three-year contract with Oklahoma City earlier this month – may also skip the World Cup as he prepares for his first season in the NBA. There’s less certainty about Micic’s status at this point, but Stankovic suggests the longtime EuroLeague star will likely follow Jokic’s lead and decline to participate, leaving Serbia without another key piece of its projected rotation.

The FIBA World Cup is generally viewed as a less prestigious international event than the Olympics, so stars who miss this summer’s event in Asia may still end up playing for their national teams in 2024 in Paris. The U.S. World Cup team, for instance, is headlined by a younger group of stars such as Brandon Ingram, Anthony Edwards, and Tyrese Haliburton, but Team USA will likely have more big-name players available in France next year.

Still, non-U.S. stars are often more inclined to compete in non-Olympic international events than top American players are, so the fact that Serbia will likely be missing two of its best players is a tough blow for the team.

Serbia didn’t qualify for the previous Olympics in Tokyo and isn’t a shoo-in for Paris either — the club will be looking to improve upon its fifth-place finish in the 2019 World Cup. Serbia would have to finish as one of the top two European teams at this year’s World Cup in order to automatically qualify for the 2024 Olympics.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Booth, Veteran Players

In an interview with Malika Andrews of ESPN (video link), Finals MVP Nikola Jokic talks about the benefits of spending his career with one head coach and the stability of being alongside Jamal Murray for so long. The Nuggets drafted Jokic in 2014, and he joined the team a year later. They hired Michael Malone as their coach in 2015 and drafted Murray in 2016.

“I really trust those guys,” Jokic said. “I think that’s how the winning is done. Jamal was injured. He thought he was going to get traded. He was playing bad. This and that, media talking about him. … He proved to himself that he can lead a championship team.”

Jokic added that he’s looking forward to returning to Serbia to celebrate with his close friends and family after Thursday’s victory parade. He also endorsed Malone’s declaration that Denver can win more titles with its current core and said there’s room for him to improve after reaching the top of the league.

“I think I can be much better, but you still need to sacrifice yourself,” Jokic said. “Basketball is not the main thing in my life. It’s something that I’m good at.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • Jokic is the historical heir to Tim Duncan as an unassuming superstar capable of leading his team to multiple championships, observes David Aldridge of The Athletic. Both are highly skilled in the fundamentals of the game, Aldridge notes, and they can envision plays before they happen.
  • Amid the championship celebration Monday night, general manager Calvin Booth was already thinking about how to sustain the Nuggets’ success, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Denver is over the salary cap for next season, so Booth’s options will be limited, but he’s reportedly trying to use one of the team’s 2024 first-rounders to trade up in this year’s draft. “We gotta give ourselves a chance to be in the Finals every year,” he said. “If we’re in the Finals, we have a chance. I don’t expect us to win it every time, but we gotta try to get here.”
  • Being a champion is especially sweet for four veteran players who have spent years bouncing around the league while hoping to win a ring, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Reggie Jackson embraced Jeff Green, DeAndre Jordan and Ish Smith as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Game 5. “It hit me at the end of the game,” Smith said. “I don’t know why I just got emotional, but this is gratifying, man. This is great. I’m so happy for the city. Denver, our teammates, man, we all got a story. So it’s been a blessing.”

World Cup Notes: Jokic, Adebayo, VanVleet, Murray, Kessler, Powell, Simmons

After winning his first NBA title, Nikola Jokic isn’t a certainty to represent Serbia this summer in the FIBA World Cup, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Vardon hears from an international source that Jokic has a family celebration scheduled during World Cup play, which will take place from August 25 through September 10, leaving his playing status unclear.

Vardon adds that Serbia received a favorable draw in the tournament and appears to have a relatively easy path to a quarterfinals matchup with Team USA. Jokic was part of the team that defeated the Americans in the 2019 World Cup.

Vardon also questions whether Jokic will want to commit to another intense competition after a long NBA season and a two-month playoff run with the Nuggets. The tournament will end roughly two weeks before the traditional start of NBA training camps.

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Bam Adebayo may also need a break after helping the Heat reach the NBA Finals, Vardon adds. Adebayo played for Team USA two years ago and is expected to be part of the 2024 Olympics squad, so he may consider opting out this summer.
  • Team USA reached out to Raptors guard Fred VanVleet to see if he’s interested in joining them for the World Cup, a source tells Vardon. The veteran free agent has never taken part in a World Cup or Olympics competition.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray made a three-year commitment to Team Canada, but his long postseason run and his injury history may put his World Cup status in doubt, according to Vardon.
  • Jazz center Walker Kessler has agreed to join the Americans in the World Cup, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The first-team All-Rookie selection was originally asked to be part of the Select Team that will scrimmage against Team USA, but he received a promotion, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Mavericks big man Dwight Powell is optimistic about Canada’s chances in the tournament, per Eddie Sefko of With 22 players on NBA rosters at the start of the season, Canada has a rich talent pool available. “Gold medal,” Powell replied when asked what would constitute a successful tournament. “That’s always the goal. (However), the World Cup is a stacked tournament. We got to be ready for everybody.”
  • The deadline to submit World Cup rosters is in late August, and the Australians are willing to wait as long as it takes to see if the NetsBen Simmons is available, according to a NetsDaily story. Simmons is working out with teammates in Miami and trying to overcome the nerve impingement that ended his season in mid-February.

Nuggets Win First Title, Jokic Named MVP

The Nuggets secured their first championship on Monday night, completing a 4-1 series victory over the Heat with a 94-89 victory. The Nuggets joined the NBA in 1976 after the league’s merger with the ABA.

Nikola Jokic, the league’s two-time Most Valuable Player in the regular season, was named the MVP of the Finals, NBA Communications tweets. He had 28 points, 16 rebounds and four assists in the clinching victory. For the series, Jokic averaged 30.2 points, 14.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists per night.

Jokic and the team’s other star, Jamal Murray, carried the Nuggets throughout the playoffs. However, the team’s role players made some of the biggest plays in Game 5.

Bruce Brown had the go-ahead put-back in the late going and hit clinching free throws. In between, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a key steal and made two clutch free throws.

Denver is well-positioned to make a run at back-to-back titles and beyond. Jokic, Murray, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. are all signed through at least the 2024/25 season. Caldwell-Pope has two more years left on his contract, though he can opt out next summer.

There’s a good chance Brown will go elsewhere. He will almost certainly decline his $6.8MM option and the team doesn’t own his Bird rights, limiting its ability to offer much of a raise.

Jeff Green and a handful of other veteran reserves will be unrestricted free agents, though the Nuggets have some quality young players on rookie contracts poised to take on bigger roles, including Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

The Heat have some key players entering free agency, most notably Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Kevin Love.

With the Finals decided, the 2023 NBA offseason is officially underway. The draft will be held in 10 days with free agency beginning the following week.

Nuggets Notes: Potential Dynasty, Jackson, Reserves, Kamagate

The Nuggets are one victory away from their first NBA title, but they have the foundation in place to win several more, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Hollinger notes that the team’s core players are all in their prime with Nikola Jokic at 28, Aaron Gordon at 27, Jamal Murray at 26 and Michael Porter Jr. at 24. All four are signed for at least two more seasons, and Denver isn’t facing any significant tax issues despite having three max contracts.

The only expected loss from this year’s rotation is Bruce Brown, a free agent addition last summer, who’s expected to turn down his $6.8MM player option and test the market again. The Nuggets don’t own Brown’s Bird rights and won’t be able to compete with the offers he’s likely to receive.

They may be in the same position with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope next year, Hollinger adds. Denver worked out an extension with the veteran guard after acquiring him from Washington, but he has a $15.4MM player option for 2024/25 that he might decide to decline.

Hollinger points out that Nuggets have navigated the cap by amassing young talent on affordable contracts. Late first-round picks Christian Braun and Peyton Watson will make a combined $4.5MM next season, and they both appear ready to become consistent rotation pieces.

There’s more from Denver:

  • Reggie Jackson hasn’t played much since signing with the Nuggets after a trade and a buyout in February, but the 33-year-old guard is happy to still be in the league, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Jackson thought about retiring when he was with the Pistons as persistent ankle injuries kept him off the court. “I can’t believe I’m here now,” he said. “Especially after Detroit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to play anymore and then being resurrected in L.A. (with the Clippers). The build-up there, the fun there. Then being traded, it’s coming full circle.”’
  • Denver’s bench players have contributed to the championship run by not making waves about their playing time, observes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jackson, DeAndre Jordan, Thomas Bryant, Ish Smith and others have been content with limited minutes and sometimes none at all. Jones adds that the only Nuggets player who has been unhappy with his role this season was Bones Hyland, who was traded in February.
  • Ismael Kamagate, whom the Nuggets selected with the 46th pick last year, is finalizing an agreement to play for EA7 Emporio Armani Milan next season, tweets Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews. A recent report indicated that he likely wasn’t in Denver’s plans for 2023/24.

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Brown, Jokic, Trade

The Nuggets dispelled any thought that they’re a one-man or two-man team during a crucial stretch of Game 4 with Nikola Jokic on the bench, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. As they did most of the night, the Heat blitzed Jamal Murray on the pick-and-roll, trying to take him out of the offense. That allowed Aaron Gordon to score a team-high 27 points, while Bruce Brown added 21, including 11 in the fourth quarter.

“They were giving Jamal so much attention that let’s get Jamal off the ball, let Bruce make some plays,” coach Michael Malone said. “… Maybe our offense may not be as beautiful as it is with Nikola, but the five guys that are out there are defending.”

The Nuggets managed to keep the game even during the five minutes without Jokic, something that rarely happened during the regular season. It was the latest accomplishment for a roster that has become convinced that it’s worthy of capturing a title.

“We’re just ready to win a championship,” Murray said. “We have the tools to do it. It’s been on our minds for a while. We’re just locked in. I don’t think you’ve got to overthink it. We’re just dialed in, ready to win.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • Brown made an impression on the Nuggets with his performance in last year’s postseason, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. That resulted in a two-year, $13.2MM offer from Denver with a player option that might have Brown back on the market this summer. “I watched him in the playoffs last year (with the Nets) against Boston, saw his impact of guarding guys like (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown, but his ability to facilitate, play with the ball, play off the ball, make shots,” Malone said. “And the one thing I know about Bruce … he’s not afraid.”
  • Former NBA player turned agent Mike Miller takes credit for coming up with the “Joker” nickname for Jokic, Singer adds in a subscriber-only story. Miller, who was a veteran in Denver when Jokic broke into the league, quickly recognized that his talent and feel for the game were unique. “Just how good he was and how poised he was and how easy the game came to him at a young age,” Miller recalled. “And that to me was what made him special even early.”
  • The Nuggets are on the verge of the first title in franchise history, but this week’s draft pick trade with the Thunder shows that they’re working to win as many rings as possible before Jokic retires, says Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Murray, MPJ, Braun, Green

Thanks to their stellar playoff performances to this point, Nuggets stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are laying claim to being the league’s most fearsome twosome, opines Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.

During last night’s Game 3 Denver victory, Jokic and Murray made NBA history when they became the only teammates to ever record 30-point triple-doubles in the same game.

“I’d say it’s a trust and a feel, that’s the best way for me to put it,” Murray said of his collaboration with the two-time MVP. “It’s not really X’s and O’s. It’s just reading the game and trusting that the other is going to make the right play.”

Jokic is averaging a triple-double of 30.5 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 10.1 assists through his 18 playoff games this year. For his part, Murray has recorded 27.4 PPG, 6.8 APG and 5.7 RPG.

There’s more out of Denver:

  • Nuggets rookie swingman Christian Braun enjoyed a breakout performance in Game 3, racking up 15 points and four boards while also holding his own on defense, often against All-NBA Heat wing Jimmy Butler. The 6’7″ shooting guard made an outsized impact off the bench in a critical victory, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. “I mean, the guys just trusted me all year,” Braun said. “So when I get in the game, I try to defend, do the little things … obviously, [the stars] make it easier on me, my job’s not very hard.” Prior to Game 3, Braun’s playoff high was nine points against the Timberwolves.
  • Nuggets starting small forward Michael Porter Jr. has the support of head coach Michael Malone despite having a rough two-way run in the Finals thus far, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Michael Porter isn’t making shots right now, and we know he is a great shooter,” Malone said. “But we believe in Michael. He is our starting small forward. I have zero doubt he is going to have a very big game coming up here that is going to help us win this championship.” Through these first three contests, Porter is averaging just 7.0 PPG on .258/.158/1.000 shooting splits across 30.3 MPG. He had his worst outing of the series on Wednesday, scoring just two points on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor.
  • Nuggets reserve forward Jeff Green is making the most of his second Finals appearance, per Marc J. Spears of Andscape. Green also suited up for the 2018 Finals as a role player with the Cavaliers, though that team was swept by the Warriors. Now, the heavily favored Nuggets lead the Heat 2-1. “I know who’s across that hall,” Green said. “So, I’m just living in the moment, relishing this moment. Because as you know, 16 years for me, second time here, they don’t come often. So we’re just appreciating everything.”

Nuggets’ Jokic, Murray Make History In Game 3 Win

Hoops Rumors ordinarily doesn’t cover this sort of thing, at least not directly. But the historic performances tonight by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in the Nuggets‘ 109-94 Game 3 victory over the Heat are worth highlighting.

Jokic and Murray became the first teammates in NBA history — regular season or playoffs — to record 30-point triple-doubles in the same game, the league announced (via Twitter). And it came on the biggest stage, during the NBA Finals.

Jokic, the two-time MVP, finished with 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists, which made him the first player to record a 30-20-10 game in the Finals, ESPN Stats & Info tweets. That marks his third career 30-20-10 playoff game; there have only been two other postseason instances of that stat line, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain recording one apiece.

Murray also made individual history, becoming the first player to record 10-plus assists in his each of his first three Finals games, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (Twitter link). The 26-year-old finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said it was “by far their greatest performance as a duo,” according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

As impressive as the victory was, it was still only one game, and the series is far from over. The Nuggets now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Friday night in Miami.