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Nikola Jokic played one of the cleanest basketball games I’ve ever seen Wednesday in the Nuggets’ 134-124 win over the Rockets.
35 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, and 0 turnovers.
15 assists and 0 turnovers. Like, come on.
We ask ourselves the same question every offseason: How can Nikola Jokic raise his game to another level? The answer has been pretty obvious this season.
Jokic’s level of mastery when it comes to the game of basketball has never been higher. It has significantly leveled up from last year.
No one scores as easily as Jokic does. No one sees the floor as clearly as him. Jokic stat line last night registered a 39.2 GameScore rating. It was his best game of the season by that metric and the 12th-best regular season game of his career.
This incredible pass to Justin Holiday last night was simply routine. Jokic saw how this play was going to develop well before anyone else.
Last week against the Spurs, it looked like Jokic waved off late game sideline out-of-bounds play call from the Nuggets’ bench and drew up a play for a Michael Porter Jr. corner 3-pointer.
Of course, it worked.
Earlier this season vs. the Pelicans, Jokic diagrammed a half-court set in real time with under two minutes remaining that ended in a wide-open Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3.
During that same Pelicans game, he made these two passes in a four-minute span.
Against the Clippers, he recognized and read a late-game out-of-bounds play call for Kawhi Leonard and told the other four Nuggets on the floor exactly what was going to happen before it did.
What’s going on here?
The NBA’s horse-obsessed basketball Einstein is playing a different game than everybody else. The basketball genius is immediately mastering even the most complex defensive formulas thrown his way every night like only a couple of players in NBA history have.
Plus, he’s averaging a career-high 29 points per game, the eighth-most points per game in the league this season. If you’re looking at pure stat totals, Jokic ranks 1st in made baskets, 2nd in points, 1st in rebounds, and 2nd in assists.
Jokic already became the only player in NBA history with 475+ points, 235+ rebounds, and 150+ assists through their first 17 games of a season. Against the Rockets, Jokic posted his third career 30-point triple-double with zero turnovers. Nobody else in the NBA has done that more than once over the last 40 seasons.
We’re only at the first turn of what’s trending towards being a historic, never-before-seen statistical season from Jokic and the best one of his NBA career. That’s saying a lot.
In between the lines, he’s breaking down defenses and reading the game like few ever have.