Why is Nikola Jokic considered the best player in the current NBA? Stats and accolades of the Denver Nuggets star

Why is Nikola Jokic considered the best player in the current NBA? Stats and accolades of the Denver Nuggets star

Entering the 2023/24 season, the Denver Nuggets star tops the updated player rankings by Sporting News. Jokic also holds the number 1 spot on The Ringer, CBS Sports, and HoopsHype. ESPN places him second behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the gap between the two stars is “just a few percentage points.”

Why is Nikola Jokic considered the best player in the current NBA? Stats and accolades of the Denver Nuggets star
Why is Nikola Jokic considered the best player in the current NBA? Stats and accolades of the Denver Nuggets star

Jokic has won the MVP award twice and has been selected to the All-Star team five times, with five All-NBA appearances. He has won the NBA championship and the MVP Finals title in the previous season, a competition in which Jokic and his teammates demonstrated complete superiority over their opponents.

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Why is Nikola Jokic considered the best player in the NBA? Short Version Nikola Jokic is one of the most exceptional and versatile offensive players in NBA history. He can easily achieve a triple-double with 30 points per game. Jokic is an outstanding center, possessing comprehensive scoring skills at all distances, and he is also a top-notch playmaker.

While not exceptional in defense, Jokic has proven that he can be effective within the right system.

Jokic has received numerous accolades throughout his career. After leading the Nuggets to a championship in 2023, Sporting News ranked him as the 19th greatest player in NBA history, ahead of Jerry West and Dirk Nowitzki but behind Moses Malone and Oscar Robertson.

SEE MORE: All-around like Nikola Jokic: Attacking all with simple yet difficult-to-stop moves

Extended Version Since becoming an All-Star in the 2018/19 season, Jokic has averaged 23.7 points and 8.1 assists per game while shooting at 56.3%. Although his three-point shooting percentage is unusual, Jokic remains a threat that opponents cannot ignore.

Standing at 7 feet tall and weighing 129 kg, Jokic has a physical advantage over most opponents, allowing him to excel in post-up play. With excellent ball-handling and footwork, the Serbian center is nearly unstoppable. The only player in the current NBA who can perform similarly to Jokic in the past two seasons is Philadelphia 76ers’ star Joel Embiid.

Jokic is also an excellent pick-and-roll player. While not excelling in alley-oops, he can effectively execute pick-and-pop or mid-range shots. Additionally, Jokic competes alongside the top shooters in the league.

His scoring moves have become his trademark:

In the current NBA, no one can go one-on-one with Jokic anymore. Guards are defeated by his height, while big men lack the agility to keep up with his nimble movements. Even Anthony Davis or Bam Adebayo, two of the best defensive big men in the NBA, couldn’t slow down Jokic in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

With outstanding offensive stars, teams often have to assign 2-3 defenders to stop them. However, this is ineffective against Jokic, and it can even backfire. Jokic is one of the best passers in NBA history. Having multiple defenders on Jokic means leaving his teammates open, and he always finds a way to pass and put teammates in favorable scoring positions.

He often takes 1-2 steps to attract defenders before passing to an open teammate. Even his teammates sometimes struggle to keep up with Jokic’s processing speed. He executes precise cross-court passes, along with surprising needle-threading moves against opponents.

Here’s what Jokic consistently does from game to game:

Nikola Jokic doesn’t need too many shots to shine like other stars. He makes quick decisions and brings out the best for those around him.

In terms of defense, Jokic has certain limitations. He is not a prolific shot blocker and cannot support from outside like other top centers. The Golden State Warriors defeated Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in the 2022 NBA Playoffs by attacking from afar, exploiting positions where Jokic couldn’t support his teammates.

However, that strategy is no longer maximally effective. Around Jokic, there are now versatile defensive players, enabling Jokic to maximize his strengths. The Serbian center reads the game quickly, has long arms, and only needs to choose the right position to make it difficult for opponents to score. Moreover, he always appears in the right place for defense.

Additionally, Jokic is an excellent organizer of counterattacks. He is the main reason the Nuggets are among the best teams in limiting opponents’ second-chance scoring opportunities.

Statistical Version Nikola Jokic has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 27.9, ranking second only to Michael Jordan in productivity per minute played. In the 2021/22 season, Jokic achieved the highest PER in NBA history (32.9), although Joel Embiid is on track to break that record this season.

In the past six seasons, only the Milwaukee Bucks have more wins than the Nuggets. Denver has scored 119.9 points per 100 possessions with Jokic on the court. When he is on the bench, the team’s offensive rating drops significantly to 108.4.

Jokic also boasts an impressive record in playoff history. He has the ninth-highest average points (27.5), 17th-highest rebounds (12.1), and 19th-highest assists (7.3). No other player in NBA history can match these numbers.

Jokic led the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 2020. He continued to be the centerpiece, guiding the Nuggets to their first NBA championship in 2023, averaging 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game.

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