When we watch today's All-NBA players, it's common to make comparisons to previous legends they might resemble. It rarely occurs that someone comes along, and is so good that you can't find someone to compare him to. Current players that come to mind are LeBron James and Stephen Curry. But after winning his first NBA Finals, Nikola Jokić is approaching that territory if he's not there already.
Now that doesn't mean he's better than the two players mentioned. He's not even a top five center of all time - at least for now. But with a championship ring to go alongside his MVP awards from the previous two seasons, Jokić already has a resume that could catapult him into the Hall of Fame right now if he chose to retire today. That's because his play style has barely been seen by any other great big men that came before him. His skill sets might look like other centers, whether it's the footwork of Hakeem Olajuwon, or the ability to back opponents down like Shaquille O'Neal, but that doesn't mean he has the exact same playstyle. What makes Jokić special is his IQ
For many centers, they were simply too imposing for opponents, which is why they were able to make a significant impact. For example, many players who played against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar probably knew he would shoot a skyhook over them, yet they still couldn't stop it. For Jokić, on the other hand, he has a unique intelligence that's never been seen before by a center. He reads the defense extremely well for a big man, and always knows how to react. There could be one possession where Jokić converts an easy jump hook, and then on the next possession, he'll make a difficult skip pass to an open teammate look easy.
Thanks to his spectacular vision, Jokić is already regarded as the best passing big man in NBA history. His play style has made passing contagious for Denver. This season, he surpassed Wilt Chamberlain to become the all time leader in triple doubles by a center. His playmaking was on full display during the Finals, where Jokić averaged 30 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists. In game three, he became the first player ever to record at least 30 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists in a Finals game.
More importantly, he's changed the Nuggets' franchise since arriving in 2015 from Serbia. Going back to his rookie year, only six teams have won more games than the Nuggets. Each year, Denver has continued to build around him with successful draft picks like Jamal Murray, and key acquisitions such as Aaron Gordon. This year's team might've been Denver's most compete roster in years, but Jokić deserves credit for that because he brings out the best in others.
As the first piece of Denver's championship puzzle, Jokić will undoubtably be a legend in Colorado. Hall of Famers such as O'Neal haven't been shy to complement the man who goes by Joker. "He's the true definition of letting the game come to you ... not only does he makes himself good, but he makes everybody else good." However, his legacy goes further than the Rocky Mountains. Jokić is already an international icon. Don't be surprised if kids playing center, are trying to be like Jokić.