Many wonder if Nikola Jokic is really an actual superstar or is he just another big who’s come along to fill up the stat sheet and never really accomplish much in the NBA outside of averaging 20 and 10, much like former NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim who I grew up watching who never really stood out. Nikola Jokic has 2 League MVP’s and could be on his way to a historic 3 in a row which would vault him in the all-time rankings no matter how many times he’s flamed out come playoff time. It’s been hard for me to ever consider another player in the NBA being better than my favorite player ever LeBron James but if there were two players I would make an exception for it would definitely be Jayson Tatum and Nikola Jokic himself; who is the only player who I just glance at the TV and wonder if I’m watching a rare combo of Magic Johnson and Vlade Divac, two of the most dynamic and electrifying passers the NBA has ever seen. People like to mention LeBron as a juiced up Magic but he’s more like a beefed up Oscar with a sprinkle of Jordan and Penny. Nikola Jokic is really the closest thing I’ve seen to a Magic Johnson, I mean the man can literally dominate a game with his passing. He took the Clippers to school in The Bubble and made former Clipper Montrezl Harrell question whether he made the right choice choosing to play in the NBA. A straight clinic by Jokic from the post, killing the Clippers time and time again with pin-point passing and clutch shooting.
Nikola Jokic will be putting himself in uncharted waters if he manages to win a 3rd straight League MVP, but with that will also come heightened expectations. Jokic has been able to avoid the spotlight being that LeBron is still in the NBA and obviously we still have Curry and Durant who are also both still trying to add on a bit more to their already cemented legacies. You’ve got Harden also still chasing his first title but for the most part Jokic falls in to the young bunch with Tatum,Doncic,Morant,Giannis, and Embiid who will more than likely be racking up a good portion of the championships and MVP’s from now till 2030. Jokic is the underdog even among the young bunch I just mentioned, why? Well his game is not relatable to these young kids growing up aspiring to one day play at the NBA level, he’s not trying to come out every night and hang 40-50 on you like former legends Michael Jordan,Kobe Bryant,and Allen Iverson inspired us to do when they were in their primes and he’s also not shaking and baking with cross-overs and shooting jumpers in your face 65 percent of the time throughout a game. Jokic just plays the game the right way, he can make something out of nothing and with the right ingredients he can win big. He hasn’t won big just yet because injuries have been the culprit behind his last 2 exits in the playoffs.
The man was so good last season I thought he was getting ready to take the Golden State Warriors for the ride of a lifetime being that he did away with them rather easily in a regular season game I tuned in to watch last year. He had upwards of 5 blocks in that game and completely shutdown the Warriors on both ends of the floor; and this was without running mate Jamal Murray who hasn’t been available the last 2 playoff runs for the Denver Nuggets. So the mighty question is, is Nikola Jokic destined for greatness? I believe he is, sorry Giannis I know you want to go down as the next Tim Duncan; go under the radar in Milwaukee and rack up titles but Nikola Jokic is the new Tim Duncan of the NBA. I don’t believe he will win 5 championships like Duncan did but 3 to 4 championships is definitely within reach for Jokic if he can sustain this level of play for another 6-7 years which seems easily feasible since his game isn’t replicated on him driving from the top of the key relentlessly and risking landing awkwardly in mid-air. The way Jokic plays the game sure he does a lot of bumping and bruising when he goes to work on the low-post and he’s trying to back in his defenders; and gain separation for a fall-away jumper or jump-hook but he’s diming the ball off a good percentage of the game assuming his big guns Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr are in the lineup.
Just watching this season it’s been difficult to really envision what could lie ahead but the more thought I give to it, this could very well be the season Jokic’s legacy officially begins. He never had a legacy prior to this season but even if he falls short of winning a championship this season, if he leads the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals in that slug-fest of a West which includes juggernauts such as Curry,Durant,Luka,Kyrie,LeBron,Morant, and go ahead and throw Zion in there; because at this point I’m just going to figure Zion has the NBA figured out he just can’t manage to stay on the court, Jokic is off the hook and should still be highly revered going into next season and beyond win or lose. What I don’t think NBA fans are taking into account enough is Nikola Jokic’s development as a player mentally, we’ve become so focused on Jayson Tatum’s development after an abysmal performance in the 2022 NBA Finals which cost the Boston Celtics a 18th championship last season and Luka Doncic’s ascension into one of the top 5-7 players in the game that we overlook just how dominant Jokic has actually been since he led the Nuggets all the way to the Conference Finals in The Bubble the year 2020. Even though the Lakers 4-1’d the Nuggets and bullied Jokic away from the paint all series with their 3 mammoths Davis,McGee,and Howard; visually watching those games if head coach Michael Malone had featured Michael Porter Jr consistently the series would’ve gone the distance.
To achieve greatness as a individual basketball player at the NBA level in what is classified as a team-sport you have to show you are capable of carrying your team to the very mountaintop and give everyone that revering feeling as they watch you hoist the Larry O’ Brien trophy; and oh yea eliminate some of the best of what the league has to offer. It’s why no one really cares that Jayson Tatum is having an MVP worthy campaign because after the gauntlet he went through in the Eastern Conference last season; to have a shot at taking the Warriors out of their misery and finishing what would’ve been the biggest turnaround in possibly league history, Jayson Tatum under-performed and didn’t seize the moment and what could’ve been had he made the leap. Much like Tatum last season, Jokic has never been on the biggest stage either which is the NBA Finals but I’m a firm believer that you can learn from other’s mistakes and I think Jokic will do just that when the playoffs come around. Jokic embodies everything you need from a basketball player to be great, he never gets too high nor too low; and I hope he shows us much like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird did in the 80’s that when you play the game the right way and have your full supporting cast available the championships just start rolling in. Expect 3 to 4 championships in Denver,Colorado for Nikola Jokic, as his journey to becoming a future NBA legend officially takes way.