Nikola Jokic stuns with slimmed-down look ahead of NBA's return

Nikola Jokic took serious advantage the NBA’s COVID-19 shutdown.

The Denver Nuggets’ All-NBA center made an appearance in a Serbian basketball gym on Thursday. The rumors are true after teammate Jamal Murray joked that Jokic was sporting a “four-pack.”

Jokic was almost unrecognizable, sporting a trim new look weeks ahead of the NBA’s scheduled late July return at Disney World.

We didn’t see his abs, but this video gives a glimpse of Jokic’s now verified slimmed-down frame.

Meet the new Joker

This side-by-side of before-and-after Jokic really tells the story.

There’s no official word on how much weight Jokic lost since we last saw the Nuggets in action three months ago. But the body transformation is dramatic.

Weight concerns carried into start of season

Jokic is regularly the source of concerns about his game shape and weight. This season was no different as criticism in the fall prompted him to declare “I don’t read anything anymore.”

Jokic, who’s listed at 7-foot, 284 pounds, responded to the criticism by averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds 6.9 assists and 1.2 steals through the first 65 games of the season.

As usual, Jokic looked out of shape. As usual, Jokic harnessed his singular skillset and athleticism to play at an All-NBA level.

But now that he’s trim, what should we expect from the Joker?

Denver's All-NBA center used the COVID-19 shutdown to shed a lot of weight. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Will Jokic take his game to a new level?

It’s an intriguing thought as the Nuggets look to break into the NBA’s upper echelon alongside the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. Jokic has thrived as a unique talent capable of doing almost everything on the basketball court at a high level. Nimble and mobile, Jokic is among the NBA’s best passers, rebounders, ball-handlers and scorers despite a game that rarely getting more than a few inches off the floor.

Will a suddenly trim Jokic be able to take his game up another level now that his frame looks more Kevin Durant than Kevin James? Will the weight loss be a liability in the post? Will he find a defense to match his elite offense?

There are a lot of questions around the new-look Jokic. And he and the Nuggets are all of a sudden one of the NBA return’s most intriguing storylines.

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