Nikola Jokic is truly special;
Nikola Jokic Year 1;
0.4 3PM on 33% shooting
Nikola Jokic Year 6;
1.5 3PM on 40%
57%/ 40.2%/ 87.1%
— Mab Sidam Analysis (@MabSidam) February 19, 2021
To describe Nikola Jokic this season is to describe maybe the most offensively blessed center of all time. An elite post-up game, a capable mid-range shooter, a big shooting 87.1% at the free-throw line, a reliable floor-spacing big, a mountain of a screen and to top it all off an elite level playmaker. Jok(as nicknamed by Shannon Sharpe) is a walking triple-double waiting to happen. Jokic has quickly gone from an intriguing prospect to the face of the Denver Nuggets.
Nikola Jokic The NBA’s Best Big
?Nikola Jokic is the NBA's only true Unicorn. We will never see another center more offensively gifted than Jokic (it's also a plus his new kicks are?).
— Mab Sidam Analysis (@MabSidam) February 17, 2021
A unicorn is supposedly a mystical animal that only a handful of people has seen. The term “unicorn” in the NBA is beginning to lose meaning. It’s being thrown around way too casually these days. A unicorn is supposed to be rare. Looking around at the NBA a lot of the supposed “unicorns” are really just evolved versions of past greats. Luka Doncic seems like the evolutionary Larry Bird. Joel Embiid seems like the modern-day Hakeem Olajuwon. AD is Tim Duncan 1.5. Lebron is a more athletic Magic. Steph Curry’s massive influence has already seen clones of him running around in the NBA right now. That fact eliminates him from the conversation.
Nikola Jokic isn’t the evolution of anyone and his game is so hard to replicate that I can’t see any clones of him running around the NBA in 5 years. This is the first time the NBA is seeing a big push for the 50-40-90 club while being his team’s lead playmaker. It is well accepted that Jokic is the greatest passing big of all time while being a completely polished scoring 5. We have simply never seen anything like this before.
The Present Reality For The Denver Nuggets And Nikola Jokic
The Denver Nuggets have all the foundational pieces of a championship roster. Sadly all these pieces are at different points in their careers. Jokic is in his prime while co-stars such as Jamal Murray and Gary Harris have failed to make the leap from decent scorers to legit 2nd options. Other role players such as Michael Porter Jr, Bol Bol, and RJ Hampton are exciting but still very raw prospects a few years away from being reliable contributors to a championship team.
It helps greatly that Jokic is only 26 so the Nuggets still have time on their side. Yet this shouldn’t make them conservative. The franchise has a generational offensive superstar and to mismanage his prime would be a travesty. The Nuggets need to make moves. The first move should be to move Gary Harris for more defensive help. The Nuggets are spoiled for choice offensively but only MPJ averages over a block a game(1.2 BPG) while Jok himself leads the team in steals (1.6 SPG). Moving an underperforming role player to create a more balanced roster is the right move. Younger role players like MPJ and Bol Bol emerging defensively would help balance this roster but they seem a few years away. Older vets like Paul Millsap and JaMychal Green would’ve been perfect in their primes but they are just too old now.
The Denver Nuggets are in a good place. The right GM, the right coach, the right supporting cast, and the right superstar. Nikola Jokic is proof the big man isn’t dead and a title would help revive the position. If reviving a position isn’t a Unicorn trait then what is?