Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic seems to have misplaced quite a lot of weight, however is that good for his recreation?

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Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic seems to have misplaced quite a lot of weight, however is that good for his recreation?
Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic seems to have misplaced quite a lot of weight, however is that good for his recreation?

 

NBA followers scoffed and chuckled final week when Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly mentioned that Nikola Jokic, his prized massive man recognized for his amorphously mountainous form nearly as a lot as his transcendent talent and precision, seemed like a brand new man in a photograph that Jokic despatched over from quarantine.

“He’s beach ready. He has abs,” Connelly informed Altitude Sports Radio. “He showed up in great shape. He’s sitting there. He sent me a picture. No shirt on. He’s got abs. I’ve never seen him have abs before.”

Front workplace execs tend to overstate gamers’ enhancements, whether or not bodily or on the court docket, so most understandably took Connelly’s feedback with a grain of salt — and maybe a aspect of french fries. But, lo and behold, the person was not mendacity. Photos and video have are available from Serbia, the place Jokic has apparently been doing a little critical work on his physique. He confirmed up at an occasion in Belgrade trying like a svelte GQ mannequin.

Now, earlier than you begin googling “Jokic liposuction South Beach Diet,” needless to say the wheels for this transformation have been set in movement way back. Jokic mentioned in February that he had misplaced 20-25 kilos throughout the season by means of weight loss plan and train, and his weight reduction coincided with the upward trajectory of his play — he averaged 25.5 factors, 10 rebounds and seven.2 assists on 64 p.c taking pictures within the month of February.

It’s pure to imagine the burden loss will assist him on the court docket — most gamers expertise elevated athleticism and quickness once they shed important kilos — however Jokic’s recreation is so distinctive that it begs the query of whether or not it may negatively impression his recreation.

Jokic himself informed ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk final yr that he most well-liked enjoying round 275-280 kilos (he appears to be like lighter than that now), and he confounded NBA followers by enjoying an unbelievable 64 minutes in a four-overtime Game three loss to the Blazers in final yr’s Western Conference semifinals. Jokic put up 33 factors, 18 rebounds and 14 assists within the recreation, silencing any critics claiming that he was out of practice.

“To be honest, I like to be a little bit heavier like how I am right now,” Jokic informed ESPN. “I was lighter than this, say 15 pounds. But I didn’t feel right. Because the guys are pushing me, I was not that heavy, I was light. I just needed a little bit more weight to keep up with those guys.”

Given his measurement and distinctive talent set, Jokic makes use of his physique in addition to anybody within the league to get and maintain place, whether or not it is within the submit as he surgically slices aside defenses together with his passing or when he is boxing out opponents for one in every of his patented one-handed, flat-footed rebounds. You simply cannot get across the man.

Just watch how he bulldozes 250-pound Washington Wizards middle Thomas Bryant on his approach to a simple basket.

Or how he fully swallows Dallas Mavericks wing Courtney Lee on this display screen, liberating up Jamal Murray for a wide-open jumper.

It’s honest to a minimum of query whether or not important weight reduction would really damage the issues that Jokic does so nicely on the court docket.

Cleveland Cavaliers ahead Kevin Love skilled a statistical drop after shedding weight, and later admitted that he “got too skinny” and vowed to placed on extra muscle. Conversely, Toronto Raptors middle Marc Gasol has excelled since shedding a big quantity of weight, so this stuff clearly rely upon every particular person participant.

There’s no assure that Jokic will proceed to drop a few pounds or that his recreation will not be positively affected by being extra cell and energetic, however let’s simply say that slimmer is not essentially higher in terms of his explicit fashion of play.

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