The Denver Nuggets have started the season with a positive 9-7 record, good for 5th in the Western Conference. While it took them a little to get going, they are currently on a 3 game winning streak after an inconsistent start to the season. A huge reason for their success as always has been the play of big man Nikola Jokic. Nikola Jokic is currently establishing himself as a player that can do everything on the court offensively, using his size and basketball IQ to make defenders look foolish.
Nikola Jokic is an early front-runner for the MVP award, and if his team had a better record, he'd probably be the favorite. Nikola Jokic has always been an elite passing big man, but this year, he has hit another level. Nikola Jokic is currently playing basketball on easy mode, and there is no stopping him.
Nikola Jokic Puts Up Video Game Statistics
Nikola Jokic is a player that can make an impact on the court in many different ways. Jokic is currently putting up monster statistics: 25.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG, and 9.6 APG, with almost enough assists to average a triple-double on the season. The whole Nuggets' offense revolves around Nikola Jokic's ability to pass: he is their main playmaker and defines what positionless basketball means. Jokic is a center that can play bully ball inside the paint, while also making elite passes like a guard. His vision is similar to great playmakers like LeBron James and Chris Paul. There is still a lot of games left to play, but at the end of the season, Nikola Jokic could join Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook in averaging a triple-double over an entire season.
The ClutchPoints graphic shows Nikola Jokic's ridiculous statistics, and they state that he is #1 in all fantasy basketball formats. While fantasy basketball isn't always an accurate representation of a player's full value, his statistics do stand out. Nikola Jokic was averaging 1.9 steals prior to the Nuggets' recent game against the Phoenix Suns and is still averaging the same number. Jokic has famously been maligned as a bad defender, but even though he doesn't protect the rim in a traditional shot-blocking way, he has active hands on the defensive end and can surprise offensive players with his swipes.
Nikola Jokic can take over the scoring when necessary and will do everything to win. Jokic is a stat-stuffing machine, and during his performance against the Phoenix Suns, he put up a stat line one can expect from a 2K21 game. If basketball was a video game, then Nikola Jokic would be the cheat code. He is currently averaging career-highs in PPG, RPG, APG, and SPG, and he will only get better as the season goes on. What is even more impressive, is that he doesn't have a top-15 usage rate for the season, sitting at No. 19 overall with 29.1%. Nikola Jokic is doing everything that a team can expect from their superstar, and if he continues dominating throughout the season, then he could vault over established superstars for the MVP award.
Nikola Jokic Is The Best Passing Big Man Ever
In the history of the game, there has never been a player like Nikola Jokic. There were other European passing big men like Vlade Divac or Arvydas Sabonis, but they were never in quite the right era to succeed. Bill Walton was a good passer for his era and won a title, he never averaged more than 5.0 APG in a season, while Nikola Jokic has averaged 7.0 APG or more since the 2018-19 season. Walton's defensive impact was probably a bigger factor in his success during the pure big man era during the 70s. But in a positionless era like today's NBA, an elite passing big man can be the centerpiece of an offense while reaping the rewards of the continuing evolution of the game.
In many ways, Nikola Jokic's passing is enhanced by all of his other skills. The Thinking Basketball video mentions that his elite post scoring combined with his passing makes it hard to double team him, and at 1:26, we see an example of how he can make a pass look like a shot. Due to his ability to actually shoot from the perimeter, the move leaves defenders looking at Jokic, while Paul Millsap actively cuts to the basket for an easy layup. Nikola Jokic's scoring on all three levels opens up passing lanes, and his overall skill set makes him one of the most unpredictable players to guard within the NBA.
Can Nikola Jokic Win The MVP Award?
Nikola Jokic has been underrated for a lot of his career, starting with his selection as the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He also wasn't expected to help the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Clippers in a series. But Nikola Jokic is pushing the boundaries of what a center can do in the NBA. He has a good team around him that puts him in the position to succeed and if the Nuggets do well in the Western Conference, Nikola Jokic could be in line to receive his first MVP award.
A key focus for Nikola Jokic would be to continue his scoring: 9 out of the last 10 NBA MVP winners have averaged 25.0 PPG or more, with the exception being Stephen Curry during the 2014-15 season, with 24.8 PPG. This year is the first year that Nikola Jokic is averaging more than 25.0 PPG, and continuing to be an elite scoring threat will let him keep using his vision to set up open teammates. If he wants the MVP award, the statistics say that he will have to keep scoring.
The NBA MVP is typically awarded to a player that can make an immense impact on the stat sheet and is the face of their own team. Nikola Jokic fits both criteria and is proving himself to be a unique superstar in this league. If he receives an MVP award, that will only cement his status as the best passing big man of all-time, and as one of the best players in the league today.