Denver Nuggets GM Artūras Karnišovas on The Woj Pod: Adding Jerami Grant makes us really good

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

It’s been an intense NBA offseason, but the Nuggets are banking on continuity and the addition of Jerami Grant in taking another step forward.

That was the message Artūras Karnišovas conveyed to Adrian Wojnarowski on the latest The Woj Pod. In an illuminating conversation with ESPN’s lead NBA insider, the Denver Nuggets’ GM shared his thoughts on some of the big moves in the Western Conference.  Karnišovas also revealed how old tapes of Marc Gasol shaped the way how the team was able to find a diamond in the rough in Nikola Jokić.

Here’s some highlights of the conversation: 

On the importance of continuity:   

“Definitely, we’re banking on continuity. A lot of teams that made changes, added huge pieces and stars, they’re still dealing [with] hypotheticals. We’ve watched this team show us [what its capable of] last year….So this group is done, and they are still, I think, the third-youngest group in the league. By adding Jerami, it makes us really good. Offensively, we were [already] really good, but Jerami is going to help us also defensively.

On figuring when the Nuggets had a star in Jokić

It was a gradual improvement by Joker. He played in Summer League and averaged 10 [points] and seven [rebounds]. After that, you wouldn’t say he was going to be fourth in MVP voting, like he did this year. So, it was gradual, but I think the third year when we started him on Dec. 15 I think that’s when he had two months of crazy numbers…So that’s when we thought maybe there’s a chance he’ll be a star in our league.

On scouting Jokić before the draft

Before the draft, he was available for everybody [NBA teams] to look at, including the Hoop Summit. We watched a lot of Marc Gasol’s tapes from when he was 18 and 19 in Spain…

The way everyone was thinking he’s [Jokić] not athletic enough to make it in our league, but the skill was always there. From passing to shooting to probably the best hands I’ve ever seen. Again, it was about improving his body and how it’ll work in our setting. Now we say he’s our point guard and he initiates most of our offenses. A lot of people ask me how he compares to guys like [Arvydas] Sabonis, you know what a passer he was [from the center position], and I think Joker took it to the next level because he also brings the ball up. He takes the rebound, he brings the ball up and initiates the offense.

How many teams in our league have their center bring the ball up with two minutes to go, which we had during playoff games?

On scouting internationally with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly

Tim is very versatile. He not only specializes in scouting in the [United States], but he has so many contacts internationally…

It also contributes the generation that I played with overseas [in terms of contacts]. Now, they [players I played with or against] are coaches, agents or heads of Federations, so it opens up a lot of doors and information flow. So, it helps a lot. When we travel, we’re trying to maximize watching talent; where to go, who to watch and [try to] project these kids in our league.

To listen to the full podcast, where Karnišovas discusses more of the Nuggets’ international process as well as his own playing experience, click here.

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