If you’re not familiar with Film Fridays, each Friday, I’ll be looking at some recent Denver Nuggets’ games, lineups or something else from a film aspect to try and bring you a piece of content that you’re not getting somewhere else. Feel free to give any feedback positive or negative in the comments or find me on Twitter.
Alllllllright, it’s time for another edition of Film Friday. With the NBA still out of season, we have to get creative with what we’re going for. Earlier this week, a few videos started circulating the Twitterverse displaying the passing exploits of superstar center Nikola Jokic. I’ll just say this. Some of those passes had me rubbing my temples really hard trying to figure out how he got it done.
So, with that in mind, we’re going to be looking at some of the mind-bending passes that Jokic has made throughout his young career, and we’re going to be breaking down just how he got the job done. Jokic is on pace to be known as the best passing big of all time. Among true centers, there has just rarely been a player that can do what he does. No more stalling. Let’s do this.
Jokic Overhead to Will Barton
So, we’re starting here, and this is an absolute beauty to start on. Jokic gets a contested rebound following a miss by Jamal Murray, and the defense immediately swarms him. He’s got three defenders on him, and it looks like a wounded water buffalo surrounded by a pack of hyenas. Jokic doesn’t panic, and he’s already got his eyes up looking for some help.
He catches just a glimpse of Will Barton, who’s streaking to the basket, and he proceeds to make fools out of the Los Angeles Lakers’ defense. Who thinks to make this pass? I made a similar decision in sixth-grade basketball when I chucked the ball backwards from nearly half court thinking the clock was expiring. (It wasn’t. We scored thanks to a save from my teammate, but that’s not why we’re here) Jokic does a little nonchalant flip, and Barton slams it home for two points.
Jokic to Malik Beasley for the Touchdown
Last week, I talked about how Jokic would be a quarterback if he were in the NFL. He’s been quarterbacking the Nuggets for the past few years, and he has thrown some absolute dimes like this one to Malik Beasley. First of all, the number of players that can make this pass accurately is such a short list. The physical strength required is crazy, and Jokic launches this ball the length of the floor on a rope.
It’s a tight game with Denver up by one with a little over a minute remaining on the road. These late possessions are the ones that really matter when you’re making a playoff push. The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t pressing, so they could have had anyone inbound the ball. Jokic takes it, and he sees Beasley taking advantage of some questionable defense. If he throws this ball a foot in any direction, Beasley doesn’t score for a number of reasons. 30 yards on the money is just dumb, and it’s not fair that one human possesses all that talent.
Jokic Threads it to Gary Harris
You know those tight-windowed throws that you see quarterbacks make in the NFL that you just wonder how in the world they fit the ball through there. This is one of those passes for Jokic. He and Harris each have defenders right on their hip. That doesn’t matter to Jokic as he makes a pass that only he and a small handful of players are able to make.
If he hesitates at all, this pass is picked off or tipped out of bounds. The margin for error is nonexistent because of the window that he’s passing into. There is nowhere for this ball to end up that Harris still scores, other than where Jokic puts it. These are the passes that can break the will of a defense. They did everything right on and off the ball, and Denver still came away with a bucket.
Jokic Keeps His Eye on the Ball
“Gage, this pass isn’t even that hard?” That’s fine. You can have that opinion. Now, go outside and have a grown man hit you in the face with a basketball. Done? Good. Moving on. Devin Booker isn’t the strongest guy in the NBA, but he’s still strong enough to be out there with best basketball players in the world.
Jokic eats a ball to the face, and he could easily have been out of the play. Instead, he maintains his composure, and he’s immediately looking to push the ball. Could he go with the quick pass over the head? Absolutely. Instead, he turns up the style factor, and he flips it around his back. Beasley catches the pass on the run, and he’s got a free run to the rim.
Jokic Tightropes it to Juan Hernangomez
Today’s final clip is just plain silly. There may be better passes from the career of Jokic thus far, but I didn’t pick them. If you can find one you prefer, send it to me. I went with a clip that is just peak Jokic. Again, he finds himself cornered by two different defenders. They are 6’11” and 7’ tall with wingspans that are both over 7.’ There’s nowhere for Jokic to go with the ball, and the possession looks like it’s going to end in a bad shot or a turnover.
That’s where you’re wrong. The offensive weapons that work the best with Jokic are the ones that always keep moving, and they always have an eye on him when he has the ball. He is liable to throw the ball to you at any time. You may not think you’re open, but that’s where you’re wrong. Hernangomez sees the opening, and he flashes towards the basket. Jokic gets the ball to him just inches from the boundary, and it’s a bucket.
For those of you that are still here, remember to leave your feedback in the comments or over on my Twitter, and have a fantastic film-filled Friday.