For a while now we’ve been enjoying the buttery playmaking by Nuggets’ big Nikola Jokic, and lately he’s been posting fat numbers all across the board. Last night he put up (career-high) 35 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in a loss to the Spurs.
Over the last 20 games, the second-year center with very soft hands has averaged 19.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. The Nuggets offense often flows through Jokic, who can accept the ball in the high post and take a second to survey the passing options from his six-foot-ten vantage point. Basketball Reference shows he’s had the highest offensive rating of any first- or second-year player since 1973, the first year they have figures for.
However, as my colleague Patrick Redford put it, there was only room for one large Balkan son in Denver. ESPN reported this morning that the Nuggets are looking to deal Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic, who got the starting bid for the first chunk of the season before receding to the bench in mid-December as his Serbian teammate caught fire. Juggling both these big boys in the frontcourt poses plenty of logistical issues; judging by recent play, Denver should feel confident in their decision to double-down on Jokic. Kenneth Faried should be pretty happy, too.