Nikola Jokic made a surprising run to win the 2021 NBA MVP award last season, but at this point there’s no denying the Denver Nuggets big man is squarely in the conversation for the mythical title of the ‘best player the world.’ Jokic is arguably having an even better season this year, almost single-handedly keeping the Nuggets afloat while star teammates Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have been sidelined indefinitely with injuries.
Jokic got the opportunity to show a national TV audience just how good he is on Wednesday night when the Nuggets traveled to face the Los Angeles Clippers, and he delivered in the biggest way possible. Jokic turned in arguably one of the best games of his career, popping off for 49 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals. Even within such a dominant scoring performance, Jokic’s best play of the night was a pass — and it won the Nuggets the game.
With the score tied in overtime with under 10 seconds left, Jokic caught the ball on the right wing. The Clippers immediately sent a double-team at him, and that was a poor choice. Jokic spotted teammate Aaron Gordon open in the corner, and rifled him a pass that led to the game-winning three-pointer.
The Nuggets won, 130-128. As Stephen Curry as struggled as of late, it’s possible this is the type of performance that pushes Jokic back to the very top of the MVP conversation.
Here’s another angle of Jokic’s cross-court pass:
Jokic is the best passing center ever, as everyone knows by now. It’s fair to say he’s one of the best pure passers in league history. While most great passers are point guards, Jokic has the added benefit of being 7-feet tall. He used his size to see over the defense on the game-winning pass, and he put it right on the money.
Here’s what Gordon said about the pass from Jokic that led to his go-ahead three:
“I knew the ball was going to come to me because Jok makes the right play, the right pass, even in pressure situations,” Gordon said. “He put it on time and on target. All I had to do was catch and shoot.”
Here’s what teammate Monte Morris said about Jokic’s night:
“When he gets in the mode, nobody in the world can stop him,” Morris said.
The full highlights of Jokic’s night are worth watching. What an incredible player:
Is Jokic the best player in the NBA? To me, it’s either him or Giannis Antetokounmpo. Joel Embiid deserves to be mentioned in that mix, too, especially after dropping 50 points in just 27 minutes on the same night as Jokic’s ridiculous triple-double.
If only Murray and Porter were healthy, the Nuggets would be a true title contender. It’s amazing to watch’s Jokic’s one-man show, but it’s a shame he doesn’t have more help.