In an interview with the Larry O’Brien Trophy, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray expressed their desire to defend their championship title and repeat their success with the Denver Nuggets. While other NBA teams made significant moves during the offseason, the Nuggets are focused on reminding everyone that they are the reigning champions.
Nuggets’ Jokic and Jamal Murray Eye Repeat Championship, Embrace New Challenges
Murray confidently stated at Nuggets media day that he believes they can achieve another championship. He emphasized the importance of enduring the ups and downs of the season and being prepared for the playoffs in April and June. Jokic, who added a championship and Finals MVP to his already impressive resume, echoed Murray’s sentiments, expressing his goal of winning a second ring and enjoying the journey.
Although the Nuggets maintain their championship starting lineup of Jokic, Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon, they will have to fill the void left by key bench player Bruce Brown, who signed with the Indiana Pacers in free agency. Additionally, veteran reserves Jeff Green and Ish Smith, who provided leadership, will not be returning.
However, Head Coach Michael Malone recognizes that the biggest adjustment for the Nuggets this season might be their mindset as defending champions. He stressed the need to let go of last season’s success and approach the new season with a fresh attitude. Malone emphasized the importance of character in repeating as champions, stating that talent alone is not enough.
The Nuggets are aware that other teams, such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Phoenix Suns, have strengthened their rosters. However, Denver remains confident in their championship duo of Jokic and Murray, who have the potential to elevate their game even further this season.
Malone issued a challenge to Murray, urging him to replicate his outstanding postseason performance during the regular season. Murray averaged remarkable numbers of 26.1 points, 7.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and shot 39.6% from beyond the arc in 20 playoff games. Malone wants Murray to become a first-time All-Star and an All-NBA player by consistently delivering high-level performances throughout the season.
As for Jokic, Malone wants to see him become an even stronger leader, stepping up in the absence of vocal veterans like Green and Smith. Despite Jokic’s already impressive achievements as a two-time MVP and a world champion, Malone believes there is always room for growth and improvement.
The Nuggets’ journey to repeat as champions begins with their first practice in San Diego. Malone stressed the importance of leaving behind last season’s accomplishments and embracing the new challenges that lie ahead. He emphasized the team’s responsibility to bring their best effort every single day if they are serious about defending their title and establishing themselves as a potential dynasty.
As the Nuggets embark on their title defense, Jokic and Murray’s public declaration of their goal sets the tone for the team. They are eager to raise the championship banner, receive their rings, and start a brand-new season, fully aware of the rapidly changing landscape of the NBA. With a renewed sense of purpose, the Nuggets are determined to bring their best and embrace the challenges that come their way.