Miami Heat forward Nikola Jovic will begin his second NBA season with a newly acquired medal, but it won’t be gold.
Jovic came away with a silver medal after Serbia’s national team fell to Germany 83-77 in the FIBA Basketball World Cup championship game on Sunday in the Philippines.
Jovic finished the loss with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field and 1-of-4 shooting from three-point range, eight rebounds, one assist and one steal in 28 minutes against a Germany roster that included NBA talent like Dennis Schroder, Franz Wagner, Moritz Wagner and Daniel Theis.
Jovic’s day started with an impressive sequence that began with him grabbing a defensive rebound on one side of the court and ended with him completing a dunk on the other side of the court for Serbia’s second basket of the game.
That play was part of a strong first quarter for Jovic. He recorded seven points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field, including 1-of-1 shooting on threes, in Sunday’s opening period.
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 (@FIBAWC) September 10, 2023
But Jovic scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field after that fast start.
Still, Jovic’s improvement since his first NBA season and potential has been evident this summer as a 20-year-old with an intriguing combination of skill and size at 6-foot-11.
In a starting role, Jovic averaged 10.1 points, three rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the field and 11 of 26 (42.3 percent) shooting from beyond the arc during Serbia’s eight-game World Cup run.
Jovic finished as Serbia’s fourth leading scorer in the tournament, with Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic leading the way with 19.1 points per game on 52.6 percent shooting from the field. Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic did not playing for Serbia in the event, instead opting for rest after leading the Denver Nuggets to the NBA championship.
This comes after Jovic averaged 15 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 5 of 15 (33.3 percent) from three-point range in four summer league appearances in July.
Jovic, who was drafted by the Heat with the 27th overall pick last year, is the only Heat player who participated in this year’s World Cup.
For Jovic, all of these experiences are valuable as he looks to earn a consistent spot in the Heat’s rotation in his second NBA season after spending most of his rookie season sidelined by a back injury. But he’s also dealing with the possibility of being traded, as his name has been mentioned as a potential trade piece in a possible deal for Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard.
After a busy two-month stretch that included summer league games with the Heat and World Cup games with Serbia, Jovic doesn’t have much time to rest ahead of the NBA season.
For Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who served as an assistant to Team USA head coach Steve Kerr, the World Cup in the Philippines ended without a medal. Team USA was defeated by Canada 127-118 in overtime in the bronze-medal game on Sunday for its third loss in four games after also being beat by Lithuania and Germany.
Spoelstra now returns to Miami for his 16th season as the Heat’s head coach after spending the last few weeks in his ancestral home of the Philippines. Spoelstra is the NBA’s first Asian-American coach and is of Filipino descent on his mother’s side.
The Heat is scheduled to hold its annual media day in three weeks on Oct. 2 before beginning training camp on Oct. 3. The Heat opens the preseason on Oct. 10 and the regular season on Oct. 25.