Nikola Jokic earned a ton of respect from basketball fans from all over this spring, as he led the Denver Nuggets to their first-ever NBA championship. The Joker’s postseason performance was something to be heralded. He filled up the stat sheet, averaging 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game while shooting 54.8% from the field and 46.1% from deep.
He capped off the show by taking home the Finals MVP award after Denver took down the Miami Heat in five games.
Jokic recently earned some praise from a fellow European, Basketball Hall-of-Famer Toni Kukoc. Kukoc predicted that the Nuggets star would wind up being one of the statistically best players from the continent.
“He’s great, I talked about him five or six years ago. I like his style, with his basketball knowledge and IQ, he makes up for the athleticism he lacks. He keeps the game in his rhythm, it is not noticed that it is so. His career is not even at 50 percent yet. Will he be statistically the best European? He probably will,” Kukoc during an interview with Index.hr (h/t basketballnetwork.net).
Kukoc had quite the career himself, winning three championships with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the late 1990s. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game over the course of 13 seasons in the NBA. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.
Is Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic already the best-ever European player?
Probably not, but he’s getting there.
Jokic does have some steep competition when it comes to being the top talent from across the pond. Players like Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Arvydas Sabonis, and Pau Gasol have had Hall-of-Fame-level careers (Gasol isn’t eligible just yet).
Of the four mentioned above, Jokic has eclipsed Gasol and Sabonis — at least. There’s an argument to be made that he’s already better than Parker and Nowitzki, but that’s a bit steeper. Jokic’s two MVPs outweigh Nowitzki’s one, but the big German is considered one of the greatest power forwards of all time. As for Parker, he helped the San Antonio Spurs capture four NBA titles throughout his playing career, making him a tough out as well.
Not to mention the active competition looking Jokic in the eye. Will he wind up being better than Giannis Antetkounmpo and Luka Doncic — two of the league’s top stars? That’s a tough prediction as well.