Nikola Jokic has a reputation in some circles of being a nerd favorite. He rates so highly in nearly every advanced statistical category including catch-all metrics like ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus-Minus, Win Shares, Total Points Added, and many more. The analytics seem out of line with most fans’ “eye test.”
But there is another demographic of NBA fan that seems to really like Jokic: current and former NBA players.
Reggie Miller has called Jokic the best young center in the NBA.
Remember when I asked y'all who would have a better career Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, and 62% of y'all said Embiid? I'm rolling with Joker— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) February 14, 2017
Jalen Rose has been on the Jokic bandwagon for quite awhile. “I’ve tied to tell the world! Anyone who would listen,” Rose screams before predicting that Jokic will average a triple-double at some point in his career. He’s also said that he thinks the Nuggets are legit contenders.
The list doesn’t end there. Kevin McHale, Chauncey Billups, Denver’s own Scott Hastings, and a long list of guys who played the game at the highest level all seem to view the Nuggets favorably and seem to think higher of Jokic than the average NBA expert at your local barber shop.
But no one seems higher on Jokic and the Nuggets than Charles Barkley. Last night on TNT’s Inside the NBA, Barkley declared “I’m all in on the Denver Nuggets. I told you that a month ago. And not only that...the Joker should be the front-runner for the MVP.”
To his credit, Barkley has been consistent about his opinion of the Nuggets. He was one of the first national analysts to buy into the Nuggets this season. As his TNT cohorts, Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith attempted to laugh off Barkley’s claim, Sir Charles only became more adamant as he shot down all of their (very bad) retorts.
“Statistically...and impact of the game...” Smith fumbled.
“Wait! He’s not impacting the game???” Barkley snapped back, with the same amount of indignation as the entirety of Nuggets Nation.
Don’t expect Barkley to soften his stance. This morning he came on Altitude Radio with Vic Lombardi and doubled down. “For them to still be winning, with all of the injuries they’ve had...he’s got to be...this is my opinion, he’s got to be the front-runner for MVP. What they’ve done the last week or so is incredible.”
Sir Charles isn’t always right with his takes but he’s making a lot of fans in the Mile High City with a take like this. And fans should take notice that so many plaryes who have “been there” recognize what is brewing with this young Nuggets team.