Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets made his first All-Star Team this season. This is quite an honor for someone who has been heavily debated on in terms of how good he really is when being compared to other upper echelon NBA All Stars. Not only did he make the All-Star Team in the competitive Western Conference, but he also led his Denver Nuggets to the second-best record in the West rivaling that of the two time defending champion Golden State Warriors for much of the year.
The Serbian sensation (also nicknamed both “Big Honey and “the Joker”) put up fantastic numbers once again finishing with 20.1 points per game, 10.8 total rebounds per game, and of course 7.3 assists per game for the regular season. However, the Joker was just getting started. Jokic played like anyone but a center in his first postseason in the playoffs. He became the first player to record a triple-double in his playoff debut since LeBron James and Magic Johnson. Not to mention, he found himself putting up numbers in the playoffs not seen since the likes of the aforementioned NBA legends along with other greats such as Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson.
For the playoffs alone, Jokic averaged 25.1 points per game on 50.6% shooting from the field, 13 rebounds per game, 8.4 assists per game, and 1.1 steals per game. Not to mention, his true shooting percentage in the postseason was 59.6% along with a sky-high offensive rating of 127. If you still are not convinced these numbers solidify his case as one of the handful of superstars in the league, then bear this in mind; Jokic averaged numbers slightly better than Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon as a big man in his first year in the postseason. All three of whom are in the Hall of Fame and have won titles.
Any fan who watched much of the Nuggets in the postseason could tell that Jokic was the clear cut leader of the team. He was poised under pressure, with the exception of a couple free throws, he got into his opponent’s head (just ask Portland Trail Blazers center, Enes Kanter) and he knew how to calm the team down when things got rough. Many times you would see the Joker running the offense like the point center he is, directing traffic as if he was Peyton Manning audibling on the football field. Most times, the result was a quality possession for the Denver Nuggets.
Another key stat that helps showcase this is that Jokic tallied an offensive win share in the playoffs of 2.5 and even had a defensive win share of 0.6 giving him a total win share of 3.1 for the postseason. Despite his team losing a heartbreaking game seven in the second round, Nikola Jokic clearly made it known that not only does he have a case as a top 10 player in all of the NBA, but he is also one of the few superstars the league has to offer. The future of the Denver Nuggets is as bright as any team in the League, and this is in large part due to Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets are coming, and an awkward, clunky from Serbia with eyes like Magic Johnson and arms like Doc Oc is about to lead them into uncharted waters.