The Nuggets’ doughy centerpiece Nikola Jokic found himself in a mild slump to start off the new year, averaging just 10 points on 34 percent shooting through his first three games. Last night he posted a restorative 22 points, 11 assists, 12 rebounds, three steals, and a block in a loss to Golden State. The game was only briefly close—Steph Curry’s 13-point third-quarter blew things right open—but nearly every time the big boy touched the ball he was cooking up something interesting.
Here he was plopping a pinpoint alley-oop to Torrey Craig:
And smoothly ducking around Draymond Green:
Mason Plumlee’s late-December entry to the starting lineup shifted Jokic over to power forward, perhaps causing some growing pains; Jokic has historically struggled when playing alongside a traditional center, including earlier this season. But this game also revealed just how dangerous Jokic’s playmaking gets with a finisher like Plumlee at his disposal. Plumlee shoots 70 percent from within three feet of the rim, and hit all five of his field goal attempts last night.
This little ricochet of a touch pass was particularly sweet:
Jokic’s numbers are basically in line with what they were during last year’s breakout campaign, but he’s gone through a few swoons and the highlights have been a bit more scarce. He looked like his soft, crafty self last night, though, and it was comforting to see.