Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić: Five stats behind dominance

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

Let’s make this clear from the jump: Nikola Jokić is among the frontrunners for MVP this season. 
 
No, this isn’t being written because this is Nuggets.com. The 25-year-old has been in the conversation for the past two seasons and his play in the early part of the season puts him among the very best in the NBA. 
 
Jokić is averaging a career-high in almost every major category (aside from free-throw shooting) and his stat line is absurd: 24.3 points, 10.9 boards, and 10.5 assists while shooting a sizzling 57.6 percent and knocking in 41.6 percent from downtown. If he keeps up his current averages, he will be the third player in NBA history to average a triple-double with the other two being Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.
 
A deeper dive into his numbers suggests absolute dominance from the center position.

Here’s a look at five standout stats from Jokić:
 
1. Third in Player Impact Estimate (20): According to the NBA, Jokić has the third-biggest impact on games, slightly trailing No. 1-rated Luka Dončić (21.1) from the Dallas Mavericks and Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers.

2. Third in Offensive Rating (121.7): The leaders in this category might surprise a few as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (129.3) and Gary Trent Jr. (122.1) are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. That speaks to how valuable efficiency is in the category. Caldwell-Pope, for example, is averaging 10.1 points on 53.3 percent shooting and knocking down 53.1 percent of his attempts from downtown. That Jokic is currently third in the offensive rating is impressive because he’s shooting at a much higher volume (15.6 shots per game) than Caldwell-Pope (6.7) or Trent Jr. (8.8). Jokić’s star teammate Jamal Murray is currently five in the stat at 120.4. 

3. First in assists (10.5): Jokić currently leads the NBA in assists, which is unprecedented for his position. No NBA center has ever led the league in assists per game. Not Wilt Chamberlain, not Kareem Abdul-Jabbar nor Arvydas Sabonis. If Jokić averages more than 8.6 assists per game, it would be a new NBA record. Wilt Chamberlain currently holds the league record at 8.6 dimes per game.
 
4. Second in Assist Percentage (44.1): Not only is Jokić leading the league in dimes, but he’s second in the NBA in assist percentage with Dončić sitting at No. 1. (46.6). Assist percentage is an estimate of how many teammate field goals a player has a hand in.
 
5. Career-high in steals (1.8): If Jokic maintains his current steals per game, he will also be entering history. His current number would place him at 10th for steals per game by a center, tying him for seventh in the position. Hakeem Olajuwon accomplished the feat three times along with Ben Wallace and Nerlens Noel. Olajuwon also holds the record, recording 2.6 steals per game during the 1988-89 season.

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