Denver Nuggets Legend Alex English: Nikola Jokić already among franchise greats

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

Count Alex English among those who expect the Denver Nuggets to win Game 7 against the Portland Trail Blazers, but of course, he’s a bit biased.

Arguably the greatest player in franchise history, English’s No. 2 jersey hangs in the rafters at Pepsi Center and he is the team’s all-time leader in points scored at 21,645. He was an eight-time All-Star during his time in the Mile High City and was the NBA’s scoring champion in 1983. English has been impressed with the balance of the 2018-19 Nuggets’ offense and believes that will be the difference in their Game Seven.

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“I think all around they are the better team,” English told Nuggets.com. “I like how they play at home and they are almost invincible at home and have been in the playoffs.”

English was also the team’s co-record holder of playoff points scored in a single game with 43, that is until Nikola Jokić topped the feat in this postseason against the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

“I don’t mind him doing that. Records are made to be broken,” English said.

Jokić has turned heads in his first postseason run and English has certainly taken notice. In a one-on-one sit-down with Nuggets.com, English discussed Jokić’s unreal playoff performances, where he thinks the Nuggets can go in the playoffs and Jamal Murray among other topics.

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Here are his responses:

[Editor’s note: Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity purposes.]

What’s impressed you about the Nuggets’ postseason run?

Their resiliency. Everyone participates in the offense. Jokić and Murray are the focal points, but nobody is forbidden to shoot the ball. They all can shoot the ball. They have a lot of participation from different guys. Torrey Craig, Will Barton has come in and played great for them last few games. Gary Harris, I like a lot because he’s a two-way player.

In your opinion, where does this team rank in the history of this franchise?

I think all-around, it’s probably the best that they’ve had. Talent wise, this is probably the best the Nuggets have had.

How impressed are you with Nikola Jokić in his first playoff run and his development overall?

Very impressed. He’s probably been the most consistent player in all of the playoffs. The only other player that I’ve noticed to be as consistent as him is Kawhi Leonard.

I think the thing that people are so surprised about is that he’s such a young player, but he seems so confident, he’s very relaxed. He’s got his head on and he’s not making a lot of mistakes. He plays both ends.

Based on what you’ve seen so far, where do you think Jokić ranks among the great Nuggets?

I think he’s at the top. He’s one of the top guys. We’ve certainly had some great players come through there and he’s amongst the best.

He’s certainly there [among the top three]. When you look at history, if you’re basing it on longevity, he’s only been around for a few years. You can look back and say in maybe 10 years, I can say [exactly] where he ranks. I look at David Thompson and see he’s probably one of the top players because of what he meant to the franchise. He’s certainly up there. I think you’ve got to give him time and look back instead of looking at the present.

Do you ever get tired of people saying he’s not athletic?

People say that about me. It’s not about athleticism, he knows how to play the game. He’s smart and he is athletic – he gets up and down the floor.

What are your thoughts on Jamal Murray’s play in the postseason?

I’m just impressed with his whole game. He’s very resilient as well and the way the two play together [Jokić and Murray], it’s one of the high points for the Nuggets. It’s not just them though.

Jamal Murray, I remember seeing him in Brazil when he was playing for Team Canada and he was a young player. He was very good then and I remember saying ‘this kid is good.’ I remember one of the coaches telling me, ‘this kid is going to be special.’ I put it out of my mind [at the time]. He was very young then.

Come years later, he’s at Kentucky and he’s done well there. He played well at Kentucky and they had a lot of stars. And then you see him in the NBA and he’s just become an All-Star [level player]. He’s exceptional and I think he’s going to be one of the future stars in NBA history…He, Jokić, and even a guy like Gary Harris, his future is going to be very bright [as well].

If the Nuggets do win in Game 7, how far do you think this team can go?

Well I think from the beginning of the year, I said they will be in the Western Conference Finals. I think looking at how they are playing now, if they continue to play as hard every night, be consistent and do the things they’re expected to do, they can be the Western Conference champion.

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