Nikola Jokic only played 25 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night because that was all that was needed to help lead the Denver Nuggets to a 138-93 win. Joker’s statline - 12 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and a block - was impressive if somewhat understated but the numbers, for once, didn’t do Jokic justice. He was in his bag in this game, as the kids say (I think).
The best Jokic is the Jokic that is throwing passes that you’ve never seen before, like his fake shot pass to Paul Millsap that he threw in the second quarter. Jokic went into his shooting motion but caught a cutting Millsap out of the corner of his eye and somehow managed to turn his shot into a pass, fooling everyone in the process. Even our good friend Chris Marlowe was unsure if Jokic meant to do what he did at first glance. But that’s the brilliance of Jokic. He sees in real time what it often takes us two or three viewings to understand.
Jokic looked the old Joker tonight and that was a welcome sight. After the game Michael Malone said that he allowed for a lot more freedom in the offense tonight so perhaps this was a sign of things to come. If so, Jokic is back, and so are the Denver Nuggets.