Nikola Jokic made another stellar performance on Saturday night and
led the Denver Nuggets past the Charlotte Hornets (123-110).
The “Joker” finished the game with a season-high 39 points, on 16/29
shooting. He also had 12 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Paul Millsap
and Gary Harris stood out for the Nuggets as well, with 18 and 17 points,
Seven players scored in double figures for the losing squad, with
Kemba Walker having a team-high 20 points. Denver improved to 26-11, whereas
Charlotte dropped to 18-20.
Nikola Jokic has been the team’s undisputed leader this season. Having signed a maximum contract during the off-season (147 million five-year contract), he has taken over since then.
He has led the team to its best start to a season in many years. Consequently, the Nuggets have been tremendous so far and are on top of the Western Conference. With a 26-11 record, they are considered one of the best teams in the NBA. And Nikola Jokic is responsible for that.
In his third season in the league, the 24-year-old center has a
breakout year. He has improved his numbers and is currently averaging 18.8
points, 10 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
In addition, he shoots at 50% from the field and 31.5% from beyond the arc in 31 minutes of action. Most importantly, he has carried Denver on his back in the last one and a half month.
The team had to deal with injuries to key players (e.g Millsap), who were forced to miss many games. However, Nikola Jokic was there and gave his team crucial victories to retain its place on top.
The Serbian center is currently leading the Nuggets to a five-game
winning streak, playing better game after game. With the West being ultra
competitive, Jokic does his best to lead Denver to the playoffs and the
Therefore, he should be considered an MVP candidate. Reigning NBA MVP James Harden and Milwaukee Bucks leader Giannis Antetokounmpo have been the odds-on favorites so far. Although still young, both Antetokounmpo and Jokic are already among the best European basketball players ever.
But, Nikola Jokic is a game changer for Denver and his presence is paramount for the team’s success this season. That said, if he keeps playing consistently, he will be considered a strong challenger for the MVP award. Charles Barkley was the first to mention Jokic as an NBA MVP candidate. Expect more and more people to agree with him.