Nikola Jokic has been incredible for the Denver Nuggets this season. The team is now two games up on the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth seed. And a key reason for this is Mike Malone’s change in philosophy . After a slow start the Nuggets elected to run the offense through Jokic and the results speak for themself.
In November of this year, Jokic was averaging 8.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 3 apg. Then a light clicked in Mike Malone’s head. The very next month Jokic averaged 17 ppg, 8.8 rpg, and 4.9 apg. His best month so far was January with 23 ppg, 11.1 rpg, and 6.3 apg. Ten days ago he put up a triple double of 13 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assist (along with a steal) against the Bucks. His last game against the Kings he scored 20, grabbed 14 rebounds, 2 assist, and 2 steals.
I’m not saying he’s the second coming of Michael Jordan. I’m just saying that we should all be put on notice. This is only his second season in the league and he will only continue to get better. Remember the Greek Freak? Remember how at first we were all amazed by his flashes of brilliance and his athletic potential? It’s the same situation in Denver, and with the resurrection of Jameer Nelson for this team, the chances of Denver in the playoffs are looking better by the day. They seem to be too far behind the Grizzlies and the seventh seed.
I recently had an argument with a friend of mine about who was the better unicorn Kristaps Porzingis or Jokic. Here’s a graphic below from Land of Basketball comparing the two:
One thing you have to consider when you look at this graphic is that Jokic got a late start as far as games started, but these numbers are scary similar. The assist numbers for Jokic is why I said Jokic is better. Another graphic I’m going to show from Land of Basketball is comparing the shooting percentage of the two players.
This graphic is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous for two different reasons. One reason is that both of these seven footers should not be shooting above 30% from the 3-point line. The other reason it’s ridiculous is the fact that the two graphics are so similar. People always think of Porzingis pulling up from three, but you don’t hear about Jokic shooting the three with the same consistency. This kid is special.
I can’t wait to watch what the Nugget’s can do in the playoffs. Even if they do get swept, it will still be a fun and interesting experiment to watch.
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Stats via www.basketballreference.com and www.landofbasketball.com