While Victor Wembanyama is the talk of the town, we must not forget the historic performance Nikola Jokic put up a few weeks ago. Leading the Denver Nuggets to their first-ever Championship in franchise history, The Joker solidified himself to be the frontrunner of the “best player in the world” conversations.
Having defeated the likes of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Jimmy Butler, the Joker’s Championship run was simply dominant. Recording the most triple-doubles in a single playoff run, the Serbian averaged a mind-blowing 30 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game.
Throughout the postseason, we learned a lot about Jokic. The 2-time Most Valuable Player displayed humility, passion, and selflessness. Clearly, Nikola has been a terrific leader as well. In a recent interview, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shed light on the Joker’s unique style of leadership.
When Nikola Jokic talks, his teammates listen
According to KCP, on the appearance on JJ Redick’s podcast, Jokic is a funny character. This doesn’t come as a surprise. Ever since Nikola Jokic was drafted, we’ve seen the Colorado-based franchise’s leader’s jovial personality. However, his teammate revealed the peculiar leadership the 6-foot-11 big man applies.
Unlike Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, Nikola isn’t a shrewd teammate. He will not abuse and certainly not lay hands on any of the players on the roster. In fact, the Joker barely even talks. But, when he does have something insightful to say, the entire team hears him closely. Caldwell-Pope revealed on The Big Man and The Three podcast:
“Off the court, like a big jokester, silly type guy. He doesn’t talk a lot. But when he do talk, he jokes pretty funny. Leadership wise, he’s not really gonna say much… but when he do speaks, we sit there and listen. He sees things that we don’t see.”
"Leadership wise, he's not really gonna say much. I feel like he shows it more on the court than anything… But when he does speak, we sit there and listen."
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on what it's like playing with Joker 🙌
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) June 28, 2023
Who wouldn’t want to play under the headship of such a cheerful personality? It’s absolutely lovely seeing the chemistry that the players on the team share. Not only do such effective leadership result in Championships, but they also help to stay away from any controversies. Maybe the likes of the Golden State Warriors and other franchises can take a page or two out of the Nuggets’ books.
Is the Joker a top 10 Center of all time?
Winning the 2023 Championship as well as the Bill Russell Finals MVP has had an adverse, positive effect on Nikola Jokic, in terms of his legacy. Undoubtedly, the 5-time All-Star is one of the best players in the current NBA. But adding such significant hardware is bound to boost up his rankings on several all-time lists.
Nine years ago today, Nikola Jokic was drafted 41st overall. He already has an all-time resume:
— 5x All-Star
— 5x All-NBA
— 2x MVP
— NBA Champion
Greatest draft pick ever, selected during a Taco Bell commercial. pic.twitter.com/uf2OmgQBew
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 26, 2023
While it may still be early to consider Jokic to be a top 15 or even a top 20 player in NBA history, regarding him as a top 10 Center of all time won’t be invalid.
Currently 28 years of age, the European sensation has at least 5-6 years of his prime remaining. Goes without saying, in this span, the big man will certainly add many more accolades to his stacked trophy cabinet. Maybe, once all said and done, Jokic could join Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain in the GOAT Center arguments.