In mid-June, images of a (much) skinner Nikola Jokic took the internet by storm but, in a more serious turn, the Denver Nuggets center tested positive for COVID-19 and saw his return to the United States delayed as a result. As the Nuggets and other teams arrived in Orlando this week, Jokic was not part of Denver’s traveling party as he remains in Serbia, but, according to a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo, he will be arriving “in the next couple of days.”
More than anything, it is great news that Jokic has the ability to make the trip to Orlando, and Haynes notes that the All-Star center is “in good health” at this juncture. Since his positive test in June, Jokic has reportedly tested negative more than once, and he has clearance to arrive at Walt Disney World to join his Nuggets teammates.
From a basketball perspective, it will be interesting to see how Jokic performs at a lesser weight, especially given his ability to use his massive frame effectively on the offensive end of the floor. Beyond that, the Nuggets are heavily reliant on Jokic offensively, and Denver could face a substantial challenge as early as round one of the Western Conference Playoffs, even as the No. 3 seed at the outset, given that the Houston Rockets currently occupy the 6-seed.
The Nuggets will begin participating in practices and scrimmages in the near future, but the team doesn’t have a “seeding game” until Aug. 1 when they square off with the Miami Heat. Given the three-week timetable between now and that start, Jokic should have time to get acclimated to playing against NBA size with his slimmer frame and back up to speed, and the Nuggets will seemingly have their centerpiece on board in the very near future.