Nikola Jokić's Backward No-Look Dime from the Receiver, Will Barton's Perspective


By Christopher Dempsey

From Will Barton’s perspective the play went down how he quickly envisioned it would. Basketball players diagnose the action unfolding in front of them in split seconds. So as Nikola Jokic dug down to scoop up the loose ball rebound off of a missed Danilo Gallinari 3-pointer in the second quarter against the Lakers on Monday night, Barton had already begun cutting to the rim.

He knew Jokic had eyes in the back of his head. He knew that, against conventional wisdom, the Nuggets assist-happy center would somehow see him, back turned, and hit him in stride with a dime.

So, yes, Barton cut to the rim.

Like clockwork, and as he’d thought, Jokic fired the ball to him – backward. All that was left was for Barton to do what Barton does: finish with a highlight slam. Check. Barton took the two-handed over the head backward pass and slammed it through.

“It’s just classic (Jokic),” Barton said. “It’s standard now, I hope you guys don’t get excited anymore because he does it all the time. I knew he was going to throw that pass as soon as he picked up the ball – and exactly like that. I knew he was going to throw it behind his head.”

Because…of course he knew.

“Once you play with guys, you start knowing, knowing their tendencies,” Barton said. “I know Jok, so I wasn’t surprised at all.”