Nikola Jokic, the ultra-skilled center of theDenver Nuggets, won the NBA s regular-season MVP in each of the previous two seasons, and this season he nearly averaged a triple-double.
He led his team to the best record in the Western Conference and their first-ever trip to the NBA Finals, and yet, with the championship series starting on Thursday, he is still underrated and under-appreciated.
But those days may be over, as Jokic will now be under the bright lights of the national spotlight that comes with playing for the world title.
ESPN (@espn) June 1, 2023
So far in this year s playoffs, he is averaging 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists a game, which has made him just the third player in league history to average a triple-double heading into the Finals.
The other two players to do so were Magic Johnson in 1982 and Wilt Chamberlain in 1967.
Both Johnson and Chamberlain won the NBA title in those years could that be an indication of what lies ahead for Jokic and the Nuggets over the next fortnight or so?
Players to average a triple-double entering the NBA Finals:
Magic Johnson (1982)
Wilt Chamberlain (1967)
and now Nikola Jokic pic.twitter.com/zzfE54sgZt
WestMuse (@west_muse) June 1, 2023
But Denver is far more than the Jokic show, as they possess a deep and balanced roster that has made them an excellent offensive team.
Guard Jamal Murray is putting up 27.7 points and 6.1 assists a game in the postseason, and in all, six players Jokic, Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Bruce Brown are averaging double-figures in scoring in the playoffs.
The Miami Heat, Denver s opponents in the Finals, have as much grit, resolve, and resourcefulness as any team, but they will have their hands full with Jokic, especially given their lack of frontcourt size.