Nikola Jokic brings a guard’s passing ability to the center position, but his full-court dime on Thursday night was on another level.
With a win over the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night, the Denver Nuggets went to 28-12 on the season as they sit atop the Western Conference. Center Nikola Jokic had his second straight triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists), and it’s his third triple-double in six January games.
The Nuggets were leading 71-60 in the third quarter Thursday night when Jokic grabbed a defensive rebound just outside the restricted area. But he only needed one hand to corral the ball, when he turned and seamlessly hit guard Jamal Murray just inside the opposite foul line for an easy dunk.
Some big men are very good at outlet passes to ignite fast breaks (Kevin Love comes to mind), the execution of which comes down to a combination of talent and skill with less tangible awareness and communication mixed in. But Jokic’s full-court dime to Murray was something entirely different.
Murray challenged the shot from Clippers guard Avery Bradley, then leaked out as someone might in anticipation of a miss. Jokic surely noticed that and had an idea where Murray would be when he grabbed the rebound. Here’s another angle of the play.
Truly, there are NFL quarterbacks who can’t make that throw with the kind of accuracy and timing Jokic did. Standing 6-foot-10 surely helps the Nuggets center see over everyone else, and the basketball court is a more confined space than a football field. But the one-handed element, with the instant turn and throw nearly the length of the floor, is something to marvel at.
Denver Broncos’ fans haven’t seen a throw like the one from Jokic since Peyton Manning’s last fully-functional season under center. So general manager John Elway might need to think outside the box, and start showing up at Nuggets’ games as he tries to finally find a good quarterback.