Nikola Jokic puts star power on display against the Mavs
For all of the ups and downs caused by injuries, inconsistency and chemistry this season, the Denver Nuggets have survived to stay within the Western Conference playoff picture. Despite the chaos that has surrounded their log jammed front and backcourts, one player has consistently brought his A game.
He may not be named to an All-Star team this season, but don’t let that fool you, Nikola Jokic is an All-Star Caliber player. If you need any proof, look no further than his latest performance against the Dallas Mavericks.
Jokic dropped 29 points, grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds and dished out seven assists with a flurry of creative passes. The rest of his team’s effort down the stretch was questionable, but the Nuggets managed to escape from a tight game with a 105-102 victory.
The Dallas Mavericks are no Golden State Warriors, but they’ve forced teams to fight tooth and nail for a victory as they’ve gone 5-5 over their last 10 games. You wouldn’t exactly call their play stellar, but with the recent surge of rookie Dennis Smith Jr, The Mavs have looked respectable.
Over his last nine outings, the highflying freshman has taken full advantage of his opportunities and showed out to a tune of 18.1 points and 5.9 assists a game. His 44-39-79 shooting slashes may not catch your eye right away, but considering he’s still a first year player, the pre-draft predictions that he’d never be an above average shooter in the NBA are starting to look like bad bets.
Don’t get me wrong, the rook is far from becoming Curry from outside and he’s nowhere near to leading a team to the promised land, but the sky is the limit for the talented playmaker. As for Jokic, he may not get high off the ground, but he’s a legitimate franchise player.
For all he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in skills and basketball I.Q. Although, he’ll never jump as high as DeAndre Jordan or bulldoze through smaller defenders like Boogie Cousins, Jokic has all the tricks in the book to make a defender look silly.
He’s a cerebral player who makes everyone around him better, but he can’t do his part unless the players on the other side of his wicked passes do theirs. The Nuggets aren’t a threat to the rest of the NBA’s powerhouses, but if the Nuggets can ever figure out how to build a roster around him, watch out.