The NBA has announced that Nikola Jokic has been named the Western Conference player of the week.
Jokic nearly averaged a triple-double in three games last week, all wins against playoff caliber opponents. Against the Indiana Pacers, Jokic tallied 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists on 11-17 shooting. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves he put up 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists and tipped in the game-clinching bucket with just a few seconds left on the clock. And against the Los Angeles Clippers, Jokic notched 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists en route to a blowout win.
This is Jokic’s 2nd player of the week award this season. He previously won back on November 13th following his career-high, 41-point game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Jokic has been incredible over the last three months despite the fact that the team has changed starting lineups, rotations, and even style of play. In January, Jokic started at power forward alongside Mason Plumlee. In February, an injury to Plumlee led to Jokic playing almost exclusively alongside a stretch four. Joker was able to average 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists for the entire month while shooting 56% from behind the thee-point arc.
In March, the Nuggets ran into some turmoil. Paul Millsap’s return to the lineup started off poorly as the team tied to figure out how to blend Jokic’s five-out style of play with Millsap’s all-star caliber skill set. Those clunky weeks brought Denver to the brink of playoff elimination and to their darkest hour. After an unexpected loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Millsap sat down with the Serbian big man and told him that this was his team and that he needed to be aggressive. Millsap told reporters how that conversation went:
“He’s such a humble guy, that sometimes he looks for me to do things. And it’s him. He’s our team. He makes a lot of things go for us. He’s got to continue to stay aggressive, and I’m here to help him and back him in any way possible.”
Since that meeting, Jokic has been a different player. He’s been aggressive looking for his shot and for opportunities to make plays for others. He’s telling his teammates where to be on the court, unafraid to step on their toes. Denver is 9-5 since then and currently on a five-game winning steak. The Nuggets still have two of their toughest tests ahead of them with games against the Portland Trail Blazers and Timberwolves. One more week like the last one and Denver might just find a way into the playoffs.