Nuggets center Nikola Jokic isn’t particularly moved by criticism of his supposedly passive and indifferent play at times this year.
His season averages of 16.2 points, ten rebounds and 6.3 assists for a 15-8 Denver squad are “pretty good,” according to the All-Star big man.
Jokic, 24, finished with 20 points Thursday night in a 114-99 win against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
“I think he’s going through a tough stretch, I really do, and I think this is the first time where I’ve seen him go through this,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. “I think sometimes I’m a little overly defensive of him, because not a lot of guys can average [16 points], 10 [rebounds] and six [assists] … and everybody is saying, ‘What the hell is wrong with Nikola?'”
When that exact question is posed to Jokic, he merely shrugs.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m averaging 16, 10 and six. I think that’s pretty good, to be honest.”
It was the kind of line — delivered in a deadpan that made it tough to tell whether it was serious or a joke — that made Jokic’s postgame news conferences during last season’s playoffs, when he would famously fiddle with the microphone in front of him, as entertaining as his play.
“I showed myself I can play at a completely [higher] level, especially in the playoffs,” Jokic said. “But I think I need to get back to that level.”