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Nikola Jokić – A+
Jokić continues to post stats only surpassed by the fictional protagonist of NBA lore, Wilt Chamberlain. Sure, there’s a historical record of his existence, but I don’t believe he grabbed fifty rebounds in a game, and you can’t make me. I suppose people may say the same thing about Jokić one day — if the biggest cable provider in the city didn’t air it, did a 40-27-10 game really happen?
Some of us were in the building Sunday night while Jokić took things to laughable heights. Laughter was required to avoid tears as every ounce of Jokić’s greatness was needed to defeat Charlotte. Still, everyone in the arena was aware of the bloated box score. We all knew what we were watching. Something that hadn’t been done before. Well, not since Wilt, anyway.
Jamal Murray – D
The Nuggets didn’t get vintage Murray at home, but at least we got some insight into his recent struggles. After the game, Malone revealed Murray’s knee was hurting him. He almost sat out, but Murray insisted on starting and finishing the contest. Malone lauded his toughness and told the media not many players would be capable of gutting through what Murray does.
While that is admirable, it’s also concerning. If Murray is in that much pain and struggling to produce, these minutes aren’t helping anyone. He shot 2/11 from the floor. He scored six points in nearly 35 minutes. Perhaps he could use some time off.
Aaron Gordon – B+
Gordon posted a hyper-efficient double-double after an aggressive approach yielded free throw attempts. He knocked down both 3s he attempted as well. The starters rolled — AG logged under thirty minutes in the win.
Bruce Brown – B
The insatiable Bruce Brown terrorized the Hornets in transition. He wasn’t cherry-picking. He was working. This game was far closer than needed, thanks to some dreadful bench minutes, but the trio of Brown AG and KCP did their jobs. Their high work rates on both ends generated the game’s most important run.
KCP – A-
Lost in the gargantuan shadow of a Serbian was KCP’s stellar bounce-back game. He posted 20 points, four rebounds, and five assists without turning the ball over. He increased his intensity and let out some emotional responses throughout the game. Unfortunately, we’ve wondered how much this group of professional athletes cares about winning. Kenny Pope sure looked like he cared Sunday night.
Christian Braun – C
Speaking of high work rates and intensity, the rookie returned from the Shadow Realm to again lead the bench in minutes. He flew around the court, grabbing five boards and trying to spark some life into a moribund second unit. But that group needed offense, which Braun doesn’t yet provide.
Bones Hyland – F
Bones is like kerosine in a fire extinguisher right now. He’s the talent fix — the point and spray to smother the flames and save the day. But the harder he works to be the solution, the more he’s been a part of the problem. Bones is jacking and missing shots alongside Murray or in all bench lineups. He’s virtually abandoned the once-promising playmaking. It all looks so futile.
DAJ – D
Speaking of futility, DeAndre Jordan logged eight-plus minutes. Zeke Nnaji did not play.
Jeff Green – C
Jeff isn’t saving many days at this stage in his career. The bench sunk straight to the seafloor Sunday night.