Even after back-to-back MVPs, Nikola Jokic finds new ways to amaze every night. Against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, he did so with his passing, dishing out a number of stunning dimes en route to another triple-double in the Denver Nuggets‘ 105-91 win.
Jokic finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists to record his sixth triple-double of the season, which puts him in a tie with Luka Doncic for the league lead. In the process he led the Nuggets into first place in the Western Conference at 19-11. The win gave them the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies.
Perhaps the best passing big man the league has ever seen, Jokic has a career highlight reel that would make any player jealous. He added to it on Tuesday with a candidate for the pass of the season when he dropped a between-the-legs feed to a cutting Bruce Brown. That was the show-stopper, but it was just one pass from a night full of Jokic magic. In honor of his sixth triple-double, here’s a look at Jokic’s six best feeds from one of his most complete passing games of the season.
6. A cross-court laser to Gordon
We’ll start with a classic of the Jokic genre, the cross-court laser. Posting up at the elbow, he surveys the defense and picks it apart. This time, he catches Dillon Brooks napping every so slightly off the ball, and fires a one-hand pass to Gordon in the opposite corner. Brooks is late to react, which gives Gordon the step he needs to get to the basket for the slam.
5. Give-and-go with Brown
Jokic is such a tremendous passer in part because he’s always thinking multiple steps ahead. This play from the second quarter is a perfect example. Before he even catches the ball from Bruce Brown in the post, he knows there’s space in the middle of the floor and is ready to lead his guard to the basket with a non-chalant bounce pass.
4. Threading the needle on the break
There may not be any more aesthetically pleasing pass than a long-range bounce pass through traffic. Jokic delivered one early in the third quarter while out on the break. As he brought the ball up the floor, he spotted Gordon running out ahead and threaded a bounce pass into his stride for an and-one slam.
3. Over-the-shoulder for a slam
Jokic is so big and strong that if you leave him one-on-one in the post he will bully whoever’s guarding him, even someone as stout as Steven Adams. Double team him, though, and he’ll easily find the open man, even if he’s not looking at him. That’s just what he did on this play, as he dropped an over-the-shoulder dime to Gordon for a slam.
2. No look to the corner
One of the best passes from Jokic all night didn’t even count as an assist. Late in the first quarter, he went to work at the elbow, spinning this way and that before spotting Christian Braun in the corner. He flicked the ball out to him without looking, putting just enough on it to get it over Ja Morant’s finger tips. The Grizzlies guard did get a slight touch, however, which prevented Jokic from finishing with 14 assists.
1. The pass of the year?
Of all Jokic’s qualities as a passer, creativity might be the most important. In any case, it’s certainly the most fun. This between-the-legs feed to Brown was the pinnacle of the Jokic experience. How many other players in the league would have even thought about trying this pass, let alone have been able to pull it off so smoothly.
Plays like this are why the Joker and the Nuggets have the last laugh more times than not.