Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić on JaMychal Green: I would like to play with him for the rest of my life
Nikola Jokić is usually understated when he pays compliments to teammates and opposing players. If he is effusive in praise, he’s usually trying to make a point. His love of JaMychal Green was made very clear Thursday night.
“I’ve always said JaMychal is a guy I’d like to play with for the rest of my life,” Jokić said after the Nuggets secured a 114-104 win over the Warriors. “He is amazing.”
This isn’t the first time Jokić has gone out of his way to praise Green. During preseason, he raved about the addition of the reserve forward, saying, “JaMychal is a kind of a dog. I think we need that kind of player."
Turns out the feeling is mutual.
“He’s definitely top three,” Green said in ranking the Nuggets’ all-world center among teammates he’s played with. “Just the way he affects and changes the game…He can run the team. The world is in his hands right now.”
This is coming from a player who has had his share of talented teammates during his seven years in the league, ranging from Vince Carter to Kawhi Leonard. Green wouldn’t divulge who the other two players were, opting to be diplomatic, and named all of the stars he’s played with instead. Still, the growing respect between the two frontcourt players is becoming increasingly evident. And the respect for Green isn’t limited to just Jokić.
The Nuggets are 5-3 since Green’s return from a left calf strain that sidelined him for the team’s opening four games. The team went 1-3 in his absence and it has been reinvigorated by his toughness, basketball IQ, and most effectively, his three-point shooting.
Green has been near lights out from downtown, leading Denver in three-point percentage by hitting half of his 4.6 attempts from that range per game. He’s also provided some much-needed grit on both ends of the floor and is averaging 6.4 rebounds in just 20.6 minutes per game. He is also currently first in net rating out of players on the Nuggets’ roster who have played 20 minutes or more per game at 12.7.
“JaMychal, ever since he’s come back from that calf strain, has been really good for us,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. “He’s old school, he’s a throwback player. He doesn’t say much, he lets his actions speak volumes. [He brings] toughness, grit, [he’s] not going to back down.”
“This is exactly what I envisioned when we got JaMychal Green this summer…I think his productivity and efficiency speak for themselves.”
The 30-year-old played a pivotal role for the Nuggets in their impressive win against Golden State. He got going early with eight points in the first quarter on back of two three-pointers. While he would add seven more points on the offensive end, he became a bigger factor on the boards and defense in the second half.
Green added five boards in the second half and helped the Nuggets make several key stops down the stretch to secure a 10-point win. He would finish the night with 15 points and nine rebounds. For a bench unit that has seen several high-profile departures with Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee leaving for Detroit, Green has become the glue for the Nuggets’ new second unit. He has been a catalyst for the bench unit rising from 24th in December in plus/minus (-2.9) to eighth in January (2.8).
“You don’t want to be called [out] as you didn’t put effort when you are with him on the court because the guy is amazing,” Jokić said. “Whatever he does, he’s aggressive…He’s not thinking twice. When he makes a mistake, I don’t have nothing to say to him because he’s getting back [to his best]. He’s a great player.”