Top 5 centers in NBA history by box plus/minus…
1. Nikola Jokic
2. David Robinson
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (BPM not tracked till his 5th season)
4. Tim Duncan
5. Rudy Gobert
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) August 18, 2019
The Nuggets will be one of many teams looking to take advantage of the breakup of the Warriors. Considering they have an extremely young core(that just added Jerami Grant), and finished with the second best record in the conference last year, they should be considered prime contenders in the west. Though there’ll be new contenders rising up in the conference, the Nuggets have an advantage over a lot of them, and that’s continuity. Teams like the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, and even Jazz look far different than they did last season and will likely need time to adjust. The Nuggets on the other hand, retain most of the same core from last season, meaning they’ll be able to hit the ground running. After years of mediocrity, it seems like a new era of success in the mile-high city, led by Jokic, is imminent.
Nikola Jokic Fantasy Stats
Although Jokic may not look the part, he’s proven himself to be a superstar in the league. Despite what his size and body may imply, Jokic is shockingly versatile, able to play the part of a bruising center down low as well as the focal playmaker for his team. In fact, he might be one of the best passers in the league, despite the fact that he’s a center. His ability to knock down the three ball is just icing on the cake. Jokic came relatively close to averaging a triple double last season and considering his role as a distributor will likely grow even more, it’s possible he may average one this season. It would certainly help if some of his younger teammates could have a breakout year, and make them and Jokic’s connection even more potent. Considering he’s the only superstar in his team, Jokic has relatively good odds of winning the MVP award. If everything breaks right, a monster season where he averages 23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, a block, and a steal a game is within the realm of possibility.
Although Jokic had a great regular season and absolutely dominated the playoffs, there are some concerns. Although he seems to be confident in his role as the Nuggets’ leader, there were times last year when he seemed reluctant to involve himself more. He’s always been one of the league’s most unselfish players and although that mostly works to his benefit, there have been times when it’s worked against him. Although he’s capable of producing some astounding stat lines, he’ll occasionally drop a few duds scoring wise here and there. He’s a very unique star compared to his peers. Whereas other stars seem to have problems where they overextend themselves, Jokic is the opposite, at times he doesn’t involve himself enough. Jokic will still be a fantastic player next year, but if he struggles to find the balance between being unselfish and knowing when to take control, he might not make the MVP level leap many expect of him. His floor is a season where he averages 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists a game.
What to Expect
Jokic is currently ranked as the 2nd best center in fantasy and the 9th best player overall. He’s expected to be drafted in the 1st round and has an auction value of $50. This is pretty great value for Jokic when compared to his peers. His versatile style of play is quite fantasy friendly and he’s considered by many to be a sleeper option for the top fantasy option. Many people expect him to make another mini jump this year, and if he can do that, he’ll become a contender for best fantasy player.
The Nuggets are one of the most exciting young teams in the league and Jokic is a big reason why. At just 24 years of age, he’s got a long and productive career ahead of him, especially when you consider his remarkable durability so far (who could forget his 65 minute game against Portland?). Although it’s still true he’s struggled to find the balance between playing unselfishly and being assertive, he seemed to be figuring it out late in the season and in the playoffs. If he can achieve that balance, he’ll be even more formidable, a scary thought for the rest of the league. I’m a big believer in Jokic, and I think he’ll make the jump from superstar level to MVP level. I foresee an even greater season from Jokic where he puts up 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists a game while leading the Nuggets to a top seed in the west.
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