Anthony Davis. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kristaps Porzingis. Joel Embiid. Karl-Anthony Towns.
These are just some of the few names that some to mind when thinking of the NBA’s top young player.
However, in recent weeks, someone else has provided a glimpse of his sky-high potential and he’s not one of the players listed above.
The player: Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
And his potential trumps every one of the players above.
On the season, the Serbian sensation has posted 16.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game over 26.6 minutes per contest, but it’s what he’s done recently that’s raised some eyebrows.
The 21-year-old, 6’10” big man has been phenomenal over the last seven games, averaging 22.6 points, 9.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists over 30.9 minutes per contest.
On Friday, he had his major coming out party at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. In that game, he scored 40 points on 17-of-23 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, five assists and two steals in 37 minutes.
A day later against the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, he scored 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting along with 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
For someone who lost his starting job early in the season as Nuggets head coach Mike Malone opted to place him lower on the depth chart, his ascension has been riveting.
In that game, he posted 27 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists with relative ease.
In fact, Jokic played over 25 minutes just three times in the first 11 games of the season and averaged just 23.1 minutes in the month of November as a whole.
As someone who was selected with the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Jokic has taken an unheralded path to greatness, unlike the other top young players in the league.
Here’s how he has stacked up against some of the other top young big men this season.
As you can see, he leads the Per 36 Minutes categories in field goal percentage, offensive rebounding, assists, and player efficiency rating among others.
On February 3 against the Bucks, he posted his first triple-double with 20 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
The seamlessness in which he plays is consistent with the other top young big men in the league.
And the rest of the country outside of Denver is starting to take notice.
Recently, TNT NBA commentator Reggie Miller posed a question on Twitter asking whether Jokic or Embiid would have a better career. At the beginning of the season, Embiid would have been near 100 percent in the poll. However, Jokic received a great deal of respect.
38 percent of more than 11,000 votes against one of the most popular players in the league is indicative of the fact that people are noticing Jokic’s stardom.
While the other top big men in the league will all be elite players for years to come, Jokic’s potential trumps theirs.
Not only can he fill up the scoring sheet with an array of post moves and an improved outside shooting game, but his next-level passing ability already puts him well ahead of the curve, especially considering the fact that he’s just 21-years-old.
Especially in recent years, NBA superstars have been defined by being able to affect multiple areas of the stat sheet. Jokic has proven to be able to do just that, and while he still has room to improve defensively, his efficiency on the offensive end has opened some eyes.
Given what he’s been able to do over the last month, it’s not farfetched to assume that Jokic could put up something like 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists per game within the next few seasons.
Not only is it appropriate to label him as having the highest potential of the bunch of young big men, but it’s also exciting to consider the fact that he also has the potential to be the best Denver Nugget of all-time.News Now - Sport News