Denver Nuggets Orlando Bubble Practice Day 3: Three Takeaways
Nikola Jokić and the focus on social justice were very much at the forefront of the conversation, following Day 3 of the Nuggets’ practices in Orlando. Here are the highlights:
Jokić’s arrival news
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone hinted there could be “a big surprise from Europe to arrive fairly shortly,” on Saturday, alluding to the status of his star center’s arrival in Orlando. On Sunday, the head coach continued to keep most of those details close to the vest but remains confident in Jokić rejoining his teammates shortly.
"We're still working out all of the details of getting him here. No real update, but I know his arrival should be happening relatively soon," Malone said.
Fighting racism remains a priority
Things have moved at a frenetic pace for Denver since the team’s arrival last week. After a 48-hour quarantine, the team was immediately whisked away to a meeting with NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and followed that by three consecutive practices. Although this group is clearly focused on getting ready for their first seeding game tipoff at Walt Disney World on Aug. 1, it’s made one thing very clear: the commitment to social justice and bringing about real change will not subside.
“Sometimes, I've shared with people that is hard for us to imagine what's reality and what's actual in the world because an NBA locker room doesn't reflect the rest of the world and what's going on,” Mason Plumlee said. “My posture has been to listen and to empathize, to understand.”
He added, “My teammates know that I support them and we went on different rallies in Denver. We did things back in the home city. I'm a big fan of what's going on. The messaging, the reform that's being pushed. I just here to support these guys and understand, as best as I can, what they've gone through their whole lives.”
The Nuggets have been photographed wearing masks with messages such as “Time for a change” and “Vote,” amid a Denver skyline illustration. Malone credited Nuggets’ President of Basketball Operations for the move.
“It’s to remind people that, even though we’re down here in Orlando and getting ready to ramp up games, let’s not forget about the message and what’s going on all across our country. As we fight for an end to the systemic racism and police brutality,” Malone said.
Will there be any tweaks to the offense?
Denver hasn’t played a game since their 113-97 defeat in Dallas on March 11, 123 days to be exact. Athletes are known to live and die by their routines and the dramatic shift in schedule is certain to provide some challenges in fitness and familiarity with plays. Jamal Murray, a well-known gym rat, acknowledged he isn’t anywhere near game shape yet and would be surprised if any of his colleagues in the NBA are. There is some speculation that teams might simplify their playbooks to allow players to quickly acclimate, but Malone believes his team’s continuity could help the team hit the ground running when the season resumes.
“The continuity that we have, the fact there's so much corporate knowledge [with the system] and the way that we play is a read and react style of an offense. Yes, we have play calls to get certain players shots where they're most effective, but we're at our best when we're just playing the game and playing off each other and more importantly, for each other. Whether you have four months off or not, that shouldn't change.”