Even after back-to-back MVPs, Nikola Jokic finds new ways to surprise every night. Against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, he did it with his passes, dishing out an impressive number of dimes en route to another triple-double in the Denver Nuggets’ 105-91 win.
Jokic finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists to record his sixth triple-double of the season, tying him with Luka Doncic for the league lead. In the process he led the Nuggets to first place in the Western Conference at 19-11. The win gave them the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies.
Perhaps the greatest big man the league has ever seen, Jokic has a career highlight reel that would make any player jealous. He added to that Tuesday with a season pass candidate when he dropped a pass between the legs to a slashing Bruce Brown. That was the highlight, but it was just a one night pass full of Jokic magic. In honor of his sixth triple-double, here’s a look at Jokic’s top six broadcasts from one of his most complete passing games of the season.
6. A laser cross to Gordon
We’ll start with a classic of the Jokic genre, the cross laser. Posting on the elbow, he scrutinizes the defense and tears it apart. This time, he catches Dillon Brooks sleeping slightly off the ball and fires a one-handed pass to Gordon in the opposite corner. Brooks is slow to react, giving Gordon the step he needs to drive to the basket for the slam.
5. Hit and go with Brown
Jokic is a great passer in part because he’s always thinking several steps ahead. This second quarter play is a perfect example. Before he even catches Bruce Brown’s ball in the post, he knows there’s room in the middle of the court and he’s ready to drive his guard to the basket with a carefree dribble pass.
4. Thread the needle into the brake
There may not be a more aesthetically pleasing pass than a long-range bounce pass through traffic. Jokic delivered one early in the third quarter during halftime. As he carried the ball down the court, he spotted Gordon running ahead and threaded a bounce pass into his stride for a hit-and-one.
3. Over the shoulder for a slam
Jokic is so big and strong that if you go one on one in the post he will intimidate whoever is guarding him, even someone as big as Steven Adams. However, double-team him and he’ll easily find the open man, even if he’s not looking at him. That’s exactly what he did on this play, as he dropped a dime over the shoulder to Gordon for a slam.
2. Without looking to the corner
One of Jokic’s best passes all night didn’t even count as an assist. Late in the first quarter, he went to work on the elbow, spinning from side to side before seeing Christian Braun in the corner. He tossed the ball at him without looking, putting just enough to go over Ja Morant’s fingertips. However, the Grizzlies guard received a light touch that prevented Jokic from finishing with 14 assists.
1. The pass of the year?
Of all Jokic’s qualities as a quarterback, creativity might be the most important. In any case, it is undoubtedly the most fun. This between the legs feeding to Brown was the pinnacle of the Jokic experience. How many other players in the league would have even thought to try this pass, let alone been able to pull it off without issue?
Plays like this are why the Joker and the Nuggets get the laughs more often than not.