Just not at the same time.
So, Denver wanted to test its bigs together this season, to see whether they could form a long-term pairing. The Nuggets experimented, and the results are in: Nurkic and Jokic can’t play together.
Here are Denver’s offensive/defensive/net ratings with:
- Just Jokic: 115.7/109.9/+5.9
- Just Nurkic: 99.2/107.9/-8.7
- Both: 93.2/109.3/-16.1
So, the Nuggets are making the logical choice to build around Jokic.
A player who is sure to move between now and the trade deadline?
Denver’s Jusuf Nurkic.
Sources say that the Nuggets, having acknowledged that Nikola Jokic and Nurkic didn’t click as a pairing, are actively working to find Nurkic a new home that would give him the chance he deserves to be a front-line center.
Nurkic can help a lot of teams. Just not the Nuggets.
Only 22, he’s an intimidating interior presence. He scores well in the paint, and he provides tough defense. He has lowered his high foul rate. If reducing turnovers is the next step in refining his game, that’d be welcome.
It shouldn’t be difficult to find a team that values Nurkic more than Denver does. It’s just a matter of determining which team values him most.
Kenneth Faried can handle the role in certain matchups, but if they trade Nurkic, the Nuggets will need someone to play center when Jokic sits. Still, that’s a small complication in a plan that makes sense overall.
Despite being anchored by 108 minutes of Jokic and Nurkic sharing the court, Denver is in playoff position at 18-25. Simply removing Nurkic from the starting lineup has produced a 9-8 stretch. The Nuggets have moved on with Jokic as a franchise cornerstone. It’s time to get Nurkic to a place he can thrive.