Nikola Jokic explained the change in his mindset this season: "The last two seasons I played with an offensive mindset, while this year I reduced that attitude. We are much more talented now and I no longer have to score 30 points."

Credit: Getty Images via AFP-Scanpix
Credit Getty Images via AFP-Scanpix

Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic is coming off two straight MVP seasons, but he has no intention to stop in 2022-23.

Nikola Jokic

Nikola  Jokic
Team: Denver Nuggets
Position: C, PF
Age: 27
Height: 208 cm
Weight: 111 kg
Birth place: Serbia

Jokic's averages mark a near triple-double of 25.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 9.5 assists over 32 games this season, although, as he says, he is now less oriented into the offensive involvement.

"The last two seasons I played with an offensive mindset, while this year I reduced that attitude. We are much more talented now and I no longer have to score 30 points," Jokic pointed out in an interview with Nenad Kostic and Edin Avdic of TV Arena Sport.

"We have Jamal Murray back who can score 50 points, Aaron Gordon can drop 20, 30, or 40, and Michael Porter Jr. can make seven, eight threes. [Kentavious] Caldwell-Pope is also good from distance, while we have guaranteed energy from the bench with Bones Hyland. We have a new team. This year I play differently compared to the previous two, but my performance remained similar, if not the same," he said, adding that the player can always influence the game beyond scoring the points.

"The best players usually take the most shots. As for me, I always take what the game gives me," Jokic stressed. "It sometimes happens that I score over 40 points, and sometimes I don't even drop 10. I like to show that scoring isn't the most important thing and that you can affect the game in different ways.

"I remember the game against Utah where I had maybe four points, but I dished out about 15, 16 assists and we ended up winning by 20. So, you don't have to be the best scorer on the team to make a big name for yourself. Maybe it's an encouragement for younger kids who may not be gifted to score points, but they can do some other things on the court," the Nuggets big man said.

Nikola Jokic

Nikola  Jokic
Nikola  Jokic
MIN: 33.75
PTS: 25.64 (67.02%)
REB: 10.79
As: 9.52
ST: 1.45
BL: 0.64
TO: 3.45
GM: 33

The NBA hasn't had an MVP three-peat since Larry Bird (1984-86). Jokic says it's not something that he prioritizes.

"Let it stay like that. Let him enjoy. I can't anymore," Jokic amusingly commented on possibly being a 3-time MVP.

"To be honest, the MVP trophy might mean a little more to me when I finish my career," he said in a serious manner. "I didn't chase that recognition or think about it. When you want something and then you get it, it's logical to be happy. However, that award wasn't for me not even on my mind, so maybe I'm not overjoyed enough because of that. I have to admit that I don't play for records, nor to be the best in triple-doubles."

Jokic stays realistic and emphasizes that his dominance in the NBA is temporary.

"I know that someone faster, bigger, and better than me will come and it's just a matter of time before it will happen," he said. "Especially, when you see the young prospects coming into the league. Yes, we can compete, but surely someone better than us will come. That's why there is no room for jealousy, and I always look forward to other people's success. I'm good to everyone, I have no enemies, and I don't think I have an ego."

The Serbian center then referred to European basketball. He commented on Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who once said that it is easier to score a basket in the NBA than in Old Continent.

"It's easier for him because he plays in the backcourt, while I wrestle in the paint," Jokic said with a smile and added:

"In Europe, you don't have defensive three seconds, and it takes away a lot from the attack. The three-point line is closer, therefore there is less space. At one time I made a comparison – in Europe, it's like there are 10 oxes in a stall and we collide because we are too close. It was strange to play again [at EuroBasket 2022] under such circumstances, but I soon got used to it."

Serbia, a favorite of the tournament, topped its EuroBasket Group D, but surprisingly stumbled against Italy in the first playoff stage.

"The elimination stage was difficult for everyone. They [Italians] hit a lot of three-pointers. I think we were the best team at EuroBasket. Yes, there were other teams like Greece, Spain, France, and Slovenia with Luka Doncic, but again, I think we were the best. In the end, it turned out my thought was incorrect, but it was my personal feeling," Jokic said.

Playing for the Serbian national team was never in question for Nikola Jokic.

"It's a different feeling when you play for the national team. It's incomparable," he emphasized.

"I told the head coach [Svetislav Pesic] that he can count on me. He just needs to say when to come and I'll be ready. If I'm already there, I'll do my best to win a medal.

"I came in the competitive form to EuroBasket because I trained all summer. As for the inside of the team, I communicated with everyone, we got along well, played cards and etc. They are really great guys. Even when we lost to the Italians, I said that I enjoyed playing with them and it was a pleasure to share the dressing room. A great group of people," Jokic remembered the national team experience in 2022.

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Points this season

Points made: 116,5
Accuracy: 51,0%
Place in standings: 5
Record max: 141
Record min: 98
Best scorer: Nikola Jokic