Despite not playing point guard, Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic has proven himself as one of the most versatile playmakers in the NBA.
The 6-foot-10, 23-year old star has recorded 193 assists since January 1. For comparison, only two players (Russell Westbrook and LeBron James) have had more during that span. Jokic has been a force to be reckoned with for his squad all season long – but has been especially impressive lately.
The Serbian-born player was dominant last month, as noted above by TJ McBride. Something else to consider: Jokic averaged 32.9 points, 17.1 rebounds, 13.6 assists per 100 possessions last month.
The big man has averaged 1.30 points per possession when including passes in an isolation offense, which ranks in the 97th percentile (!) of the league per Synergy Sports.
Matt Moore provided a fantastic analysis of his skill set last season (via CBS Sports):
“His release point is high, which means he has the ability to make split-second decisions whether to shoot or pass. Throw in his unreal vision, and you have something that’s a nightmare to defend … Jokic’s passing is built not only on touch and natural feel for the game, but obviously his vision, and his ability to make multiple reads at once.”
Jokic has averaged more passes per game than every player in the league except Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. This leads to tons of assist opportunities for Denver. Earlier this month, he recorded five assists in just 10 minutes.
When he passes out of a post-up opportunity, teammates have shot 48-of-91 (52.7 percent) so far this season. This currently ranks in the 72nd percentile, per Synergy Sports. It’s a highly impressive trait for a player of his stature.
One player who has especially benefited from playing alongside Jokic is Gary Harris, who is 41-of-101 (40.6 percent) on three-pointers after passes the big man. Scott Rafferty recently explained why Harris is a fantastic pairing alongside his teammate (via Uproxx):
“Harris can shoot a three-pointer if his defender goes underneath Jokic’s screen. Over a third of Harris’ shot attempts this season have been made up of catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, and he’s made 42.0 percent of those opportunities. It puts him on the same page as a number of knockdown shooters, such as J.J. Redick, Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry.”
Only two teams in the Western Conference have averaged more assists per game than the Nuggets so far this season and Jokic is a major reason why this is possible for Denver.