DENVER, Colorado – Nikola Joki has been outstanding this season, and it’s difficult to overstate that. He essentially averages a triple-double (24.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 9.8 assists per game). His field-goal percentage is 62% (this is not a typo). With Joki on the court, the Nuggets perform at the level of a 67-win club and a 16-win team, respectively, according to the statistical website Cleaning the Glass. His Nuggets have won six straight games and 16 of their past 19, and they are currently leading in the Western Conference.
You already are aware of all the magnificent dishes, but did you also know that Joki has emerged as one of the league’s top clutch bucket-getters? Joki is tied with Marcus Morris (10-for-20) for the best percentage among players with at least 20 attempts, according to NBA.com, with a 24-for-48 record on shots to tie or gain the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime. His most recent acclaim came from this jumper that ended a Magic victory.
Oki is likely the league’s toughest guard and its finest guard. He would be the undisputed MVP if the season ended today, which would be his third consecutive victory. Only Bill Russell (1960 to 1963), Wilt Chamberlain (1965 to 68), and Larry Bird have won the award before him (1983 to 86).
Joki appears to be prepared to join that list right now.
We are all aware about Kyrie’s exceptional shooting ability and basketball miracles. The Brooklyn Nets, though, want more from Irving than just a highlight reel given that Kevin Durant is anticipated to miss around a month due to a knee ailment. He must be able to carry the offense without Durant, which is why they need him.
He hasn’t succeeded yet. Yes, it’s a tiny sample size and all that, but Irving has made only 36% of his shots in two games without Durant — against the Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder — and the Nets have been outscored by seven points in his 76 minutes on the court. The Nets lost both contests.
If they want to keep one of those top four conference slots, they’re going to need a lot more from him.
The Celtics have resumed their winning ways after a brief setback. The Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, who are currently tied for second in the Eastern Conference, are now 4.5 games behind them after their recent run of seven victories. With how stacked the top teams in the East are, that is a nice buffer that might prove to be insurmountable and might pay off handsomely in the playoffs.
The Clippers are struggling because of one of their two stars missing five straight games. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. While Kawhi Leonard is getting better and better, this time it’s Paul George who is injured, and the team just can’t seem to get into a groove.
Just 1.5 games separate the Clippers from the Phoenix Suns in 11th place, and they are only a game above.500. The Clippers have the third-worst offensive rating in the league, so their offense is still terrible. Time is running out for this group to unite.
Don’t laugh, but Brunson might be the best free agent signing in Knicks history. He has been a leader and a calming force for a team that is sixth in the East and five games over.500. He has displayed All-Star-caliber performance (22.3 points and 6.4 assists per game, 39.6% shooting from outside the arc).
It is still easy to believe the Knicks erred by passing over Donovan Mitchell completely. They deserve credit, though, for realizing that Brunson was a player who could succeed even when given more authority.
The Point God’s era appears to be coming to an end. Paul is not only shooting a career-low 42.5% from the field, but it is also obvious that his influence has decreased.
He used to have a significant influence on winning in many ways. Now? With Paul on the court, the Suns have scored one less point for every 100 possessions, and they have performed better overall. The Devin Booker-dependent team that this is.