Denver is once again the preferred nickname for Nikola Jokic
After a well-deserved vacation, Nikola Jokic (28), the multi-talented star of the Denver Nuggets, has easily picked up the thread in preparation for the new season. In the last test against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Serbian giant (2.11 meters) played on autopilot, recording 25 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists. With Jokic at his best, Denver is the favorite once again.
Last spring, he became the first player in NBA history to collect the most points, rebounds and assists in the entire playoffs. In the final against Miami, Jokic was unstoppable. The center celebrated its first championship in its hometown of Sombor. He went to horse races, his favorite pastime, and showed off his ropes at local festivals. Jokic, who sings and dances topless, has become a hit on social media.
About the author
Koen van der Velden describes De Volkskrant About sports in the United States. Lives in New York.
On Tuesday night, Jokic and his teammates will receive their championship rings. In the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns (Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal) are considered the biggest competitor. Veteran players LeBron James and Stephen Curry are outfielders with the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, respectively.
Wembanyama shines for San Antonio Spurs
The excitement surrounding French super-talent Victor Wimpanyama appears to be well-founded. The 2.26 meter tall Parisian has impressed while preparing for his club, San Antonio Spurs. At just 19 years old and considered by experts to be the greatest talent since LeBron James, Wimpanyama has shown things that players his size can't usually dream of. The Frenchman dribbles quickly, is agile and low to the ground, and dives with great ease, but he is also happy to shoot a three-pointer.
Opponents will have to get used to his long arms – Wimpanyama's wingspan is more than 2.40 metres. Using those tentacles, he blocked shots in practice matches from basketball players who thought they could play freely. Wed makes Wimpy His first appearance in competition was in San Antonio, where there are now several murals bearing his image.
The NBA wants to see stars on the court more often
With the tightened rules, the NBA wants to restrict star players from not participating in games. It has been a thorn in the side of the competition for years that the most famous players rarely play all 82 matches in a crowded playing schedule. Under the new rules, clubs are allowed to retain a maximum of one star player, and for matches broadcast on national television channels, teams must appear in full uniform. Injuries are excluded, making the rules seem difficult to enforce in advance. Pain is easily invented.
Another requirement: The Stars must be involved when playing in the new cup tournament, which should provide more excitement for the first half of the season. The NBA copied soccer to European clubs. A number of matches from the regular calendar are counted in the group stage, after which the knockout stage follows.
The new companion to the Greek stranger
At the 2021 champion Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo only wanted to consider a contract extension if he saw enough ambition among the club's board, he stated last summer. With the arrival of playmaker Damian Lillard, a cold-blooded shooter and one of the best players in the NBA, he had at his disposal. Lillard came to Milwaukee via a player trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he reached a dead end after eleven seasons. Antetokounmpo (2.11m) and the smaller Lillard (1.88m) felt each other flawlessly from the first minute during the build-up. “I've never had so much freedom,” said Antetokounmpo, who can usually rely on double coverage. Now Lillard was pulling defenders off him.
With their new star duo, Milwaukee is one of the top favorites to win the championship. In the East, the biggest rivalry is the Boston Celtics. Antetokounmpo can renew next year for four seasons for $233 million.
Once again, a dissatisfied James Harden wants to go to another club
The soap opera surrounding Philadelphia 76ers tight end James Harden (34) seems to have no end. The playmaker with the distinctive beard is not satisfied and wants to leave, preferring to leave for the Los Angeles Clippers. He is at loggerheads with manager Daryl Morey, who called him a “liar” during a tour of China. Harden claims that the club promised him a transfer, and it bothers him that it has not happened yet. “No,” he answered when asked if the rift with Morey could still be mended.
As of late last week Beard Absent from training. He's unlikely to be there Thursday when the 76ers open the season against the Milwaukee Bucks. This is not the first time that Harden has ostentatiously made his way out: in Houston he was forced to leave in 2021 by starting preparations with excess weight, and in the Brooklyn Nets he announced his resignation after one season.
The turmoil in Philadelphia is seriously testing the patience of Harden's teammate Joel Embiid. The Cameroonian was named NBA Most Valuable Player last year, but is still waiting for his first championship.
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