O.T.T.T: Jokic Is Guaranteed To Make An All NBA Team
On the surface, this may not seem to be a particularly bold take. Jokic is widely recognized as a unique offensive talent, and the five-year, 147.7 million dollar contract he signed - that no one in the league thought untoward - speaks to the respect he’s garnered and the appreciation he’s due.
All that said, this is still a player who has yet to make an All Star team. Last year he wasn’t one of the best three centers in his conference. This year he’ll be one of the best three in the entire league.
Since the All Star break last year, Jokic has been on a certifiable tear, averaging 22 points, 10.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the final twenty-four games of 2017-18 and the first six of the young season. He's one of only four players in the association to average a 20 points and 10 rebounds in that time, which is both good and bad news. There are only four, but the three others laid claim to the three All NBA spots that Jokic is gunning for.
Anthony Davis was the First Team center, and with averages of 27.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists thus far, he'll be tough to supplant as long as he can stay healthy. Joel Embiid, in his first healthy season, made the Second Team, and with the training wheels removed, he'll be a difficult omission assuming his health. He's putting up 29.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists now that his minutes restriction has been eliminated. The last spot is the most feasible, as Karl-Anthony Towns has had a supremely underwhelming start to 2018-19, averaging 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists while caught in the emotional vortex of the Jimmy Butler saga.
In this modern NBA, though, we aren't beholden to mere counting stats. The advanced stats show an efficient and valuable player: third in the NBA in PER - player efficiency rating - and leading the league in Win Shares per 48 minutes. Furthermore, the narrative sometimes means just as much as the performance itself. Last year, Embiid made the Second Team despite never playing a single back-to-back. The excitement of a breakthrough young star making good on the promise of Philadelphia's Process was enough to overcome a quarter season's worth of healthy scratches.
If Jokic, the prototype for the point-center in the new NBA, can lead the Denver Nuggets back to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons (and does so at the forefront of a unique, prolific offense) he'll have written his own story of individual postseason accolades.