Justin Holiday has been teammates with Nikola Jokic for only nine games, and he’s enjoying the front row seat he’s had to the show that the reigning Finals MVP has put on so far this season.
He witnessed Jokic put a 29-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double on the Lakers on opening night. Then he saw Jokic’s near-perfect game against the Mavs when the two-time MVP dropped 33 points (14-16 FGs), 14 rebounds, and 9 assists.
Holiday says watching Jokic play and specifically his steady on-court demeanor has been the biggest takeaway so far from his first season in Denver.
“No matter who comes in here, who does what, Jokic doesn’t get too high or too low,” said Holiday. “I know he enjoys playing basketball, but if you saw him — I know a lot of people talk about his expressions — he just goes out there, he’s going to kill you, and then go onto the next game. He doesn’t care about the personal accolades, which I think is pretty cool.”
Jokic is already on his way to another historic offensive season. He’s currently leading the NBA in made baskets. He’s made six more field goals than Luka Doncic and 13 more than Kevin Durant in the same number of games. Jokic also leads the NBA in rebounds. He’s fourth in total assists.
He’s shooting 71% from two-point range, a level of efficiency that’s typically reserved for rim-rolling, dunk-first big men.
Of the 51 players who have attempted at least 75 two-point field goals this season, only three are shooting at least 65%: Jokic (71%), LeBron James (66%) and Alperen Sengun (66%).
How easily Jokic moves onto the next play, even in the game’s biggest moments, has also been one of Holiday’s takeaways from watching him up close.
“We play a lot of games. Jokic is a part of a lot of plays,” said Holiday. “He’s just like, ‘Yeah, OK,’ (and moves on). Like with the turnover he threw the other day. We all knew what he wanted to do. He gets that through, it’s a big play. If he doesn’t, it is what it is. I think our team does well with that. It’s not like, ‘Dang, we turned it over.’ No, we’ve got to win this game. That’s over. It’s a part of the game.”
Jokic’s no-nonsense mentality has rubbed off on his teammates too. During a recent game where Jamal Murray wasn’t shooting the ball well, he told Holiday on the bench that he was going to “turn up” how hard he was playing since his shot wasn’t falling.
That meant a great deal to the Nuggets’ veteran.
“That’s something I respect a lot,” said Holiday. “He didn’t pout. That’s the stuff that really sticks with me.”