Nikola Jokic has won the last two MVP awards and is currently on pace to win a third consecutive MVP which would make him the first player since Larry Bird to accomplish such a feat. Over the last few seasons, he has given the city of Denver a spectacle to behold. He’s had what was arguably the best offensive season for a center ever three seasons in a row. His past two seasons were very impressive, and he’s only gotten better in this season.
He’s averaging career highs in assists per game, three point percentage, field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and is having the best season of his career. He is averaging a 24 point triple-double while leading the league in true shooting percentage. He would be the second player this century to average a triple-double, with the first being Russell Westbrook, and it would be the most efficient season in which a triple-double has ever been averaged.
The statistical accomplishments of Nikola Jokic are well documented and it seems like he’s breaking a new record or setting a new precedent every other game. Even B- games from Nikola Jokic now result in triple-doubles, and not just statistical triple-doubles, but ones in which those stats naturally occur in an offense that is solely run through him. There are other talented players on the roster, and it is the best roster that has surrounded Joker in his time in Denver, but without him none of it clicks to the extent that it has.
That can be said for most stars in the league, but nearly every action in Denver’s playbook is built around Jokic – whether it be his passing or scoring that allows it to happen. His gravity is unlike any that has ever come into the league before, and likely to ever come. He’s a 7 foot tall Goliath who can bang inside like legendary centers before him, arguably the best passer ever regardless of position, and is registering a career high 40.2% from beyond the arc. There is simply nothing that he can’t do on the offensive end.
This has resulted in the best offense in NBA history. In a league where every year there are new innovations to offenses, and every season a new best offense is crowned – the Nuggets are the leaders in that conversation at the moment. In the last 10 games, he’s had 7 triple-doubles and is the reason the offense is surging the way it is. His play is an absolute marvel to watch, and Charles Barkley said it best, “It’s an honor and a privilege to watch him play every single night.”
This success has led to the Denver Nuggets posting a franchise best NBA win percentage so far this season. The previous record is held by the 2012-13 at 69.5%, which was good for 57 wins. The current Nuggets team is posting slightly above that though at 70%, and if their recent play is any indicator, they may beat the franchise record for wins. The last two seasons have seen Nikola Jokic will his team to the playoffs, and that’s not the case for this season. He has the help, the Nuggets are among the favorites to win the NBA title, and it’s not like the last couple of seasons where he didn’t have the proper roster to compete.
The Denver Nuggets have pressure this season, and so is Jokic. He hasn’t made it to the finals so far, he hasn’t won a title. He’s had excuses for that though, and pretty good ones at that. However, if another series were to go the way of the last two playoff series for Denver, he would rightfully get dropped down in player rankings. He’s been the best player in the league this season, but there are still questions about his game. He does some things well defensively, but there’s a reason that people question if Denver can win with how he plays defense.
The roster is now built for better perimeter defense so that he doesn’t get switched onto Steph Curry in crunch time playoff games, because that is an easy bucket for Curry. The infrastructure is there for him and the Nuggets to succeed. The Phoenix Suns are probably going to be a great team, but they will have only played probably 20 or so games together before the playoffs. Denver has had years of chemistry building, and should be considered on the same tier as the Suns.
The Nuggets aren’t the underdogs anymore. They’re closer to being the favorites than ever, and the pressure is on. If things don’t go well this season things will need to change. There’s every reason this season for it to finally be the season the Nuggets make the NBA finals, they should be considered serious contenders, and with just 22 games left in the regular season – the time to prove that is fast approaching.