Already an offense can go a long way by putting the ball in Nikola Jokic’s hands and swirling around him.
The breakout surprise of last year’s rookie class is a Gasolian assist factory. Already an offense can go a long way by putting the ball in Jokic’s hands and swirling around him; the 21-year-old keeps one eye trained to the backdoor at all times, even as he gauges the timing and progression of a play’s primary option. If nothing materializes, Jokic can face up into an open jumper or back his man down for a soft hook shot. Any big with this robust a skill set opens up new angles and strategies for his team to explore. So much is on the table for Jokic—post, roll, facilitate, spot up, dive in for rebounds—that most any form of usage makes sense. Beginning a career with that full scope of possibility makes Jokic one of the more variable players on this list. Some of what holds him back in ranking relative to his peers is the fact that opposing defenses have yet to hone in specifically on his game. Jokic earned his place in the scouting report and now he’ll be forced to reckon with it, as all young players do, before settling his place in the league hierarchy. This ranking reflects our optimism for how he’ll deal with more advanced scrutiny. (Last year: Not ranked)
+ Solid enough defender at both big positions
+ Ended season on-par with Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan in offensive rebounding rate
– Limited experience; averaged just 21.7 minutes per game in his lone NBA season
– Hasn’t yet encountered much specific, high-level scheming at even a regular season level