2. Nikola Jokic’s impact will propel the Denver Nuggets past the group stage.
Denver’s two-time MVP can’t let his squad get bounced in the group stage, he just can’t. This section will be the equivalent to the Bleacher Report tweet that reads, “Who’s stopping them?” every time a team adds a new player — but it’s just for Nikola Jokic.
It’s true though, ask yourself, which of the other teams in Group C is best equipped to slow down the Nuggets star. The answer is none of them.
Just look at the image above. Pelicans center Jonas Valenciunas looks like he just saw a ghost as he tries to check Jokic in the low post. The cherry on top is that Valenciunas is probably the best defender of the other big men in Group C.
He and Clippers center Ivica Zubac will probably give Jokic the most trouble, which doesn’t really mean much.
Jokic averaged a cool 24.6 points per game last season while shooting an efficient 63.2% from the field. In the postseason, he was less efficient, but his average jumped up to 30.0 points per game.
Rockets center Alperen Sengun is budding into a fine offensive talent but hasn’t quite found his footing defensively just yet. As for the Mavericks, take your pick of Dwight Powell, rookie center Derrick Lively, or Richaun Holmes. None of those guys feel like a threat to ruin The Joker’s fun.
Again, the other franchises in Group C have plenty of talent, just not at the center spot. They’ll still make things tough for the Nuggets in the first stage of the tournament.