Nikola Jokic is turning a lot of heads with his play lately. He's doing things we hadn't ever seen on a big man before. Not by Arvydas Sabonis, not ever. He's already established himself not only as the greatest passing big in the history of the game but as one of the greatest playmakers to ever do it.
And, according to former Chicago Bull BJ Armstrong, Jokic could be leading the way for all modern centers. He's setting the standard for how big men should play going forward, the same way Stephen Curry did with his limitless range:
“Every now and then, the NBA takes a shift. Stephen Curry created the last shift because he extended shooting range which created spacing, what we call ‘pace and space’. Curry is unique because he shoots the three with such accuracy. Now, in Jokic, you have a player who could potentially redefine his position, because he can stretch the game from the five (center) position. He is the first five-man you can actually run your offense through. He is a ‘point-five,'" Armstrong told Sky Sports.
Armstrong continued to rave about Jokic's swiss-knife skill-set. He's been doing it all on the offensive end for the Denver Nuggets all year long and has taken his game even a step further in the postseason. According to BJ, his versatility is just too impressive:
“I have never seen a five-man rebound the ball, dribble it out and make the right pass in a three-on-two or four-on-three break. He can pass on the perimeter, he can pass on the blocks, and, most importantly, you can run ‘down screens’ with him. Who runs down screens for their big man to curl? I don’t even know how to defend that! Who else can do that in the league consistently and make the right play?" the former Champion added.
But even among all the great things Nikola Jokic does, what impresses BJ Armstrong the most is the fact that he does it for 4 quarters. He's not an on-and-off kind of player but a guy that can make the right play throughout an entire game from everywhere on the floor and both hands, even going as far as to compare him with Magic Johnson:
“And it’s not like he does it once or twice a game. He consistently makes the right play. He is an incredible player and something we haven’t seen before because he is passing from all areas on the floor with his right and left hand. All the Nuggets shooters know if they get open Jokic will get them the ball. He is like Magic Johnson," Armstrong concluded.
That's definitely high praise for the Serbian big but is well-deserved. It's time we acknowledge the fact that he's the best big in the NBA right now. And while he's unique, he may be the first of a new breed of centers.