“Joker might be the best player in the league” - NBA superstar gives 2-time MVP his flowers

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Six
Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers superstars Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard

With his impressive 2023 NBA playoff run, many have started to proclaim Denver Nuggets superstar center Nikola Jokic the best player in the NBA. The latest to do so is Portland Trail Blazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard.

During a recent Instagram live, Lillard said that despite Jokic not being his MVP pick, he’s now leaning toward Jokic as the league’s best player. This comes in the backdrop of Jokic leading the Nuggets to their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.

“Joker might be the best player in the league,” Lillard said.
“The best player doesn’t always win MVP. I thought (Joel) Embiid should’ve won MVP this year. I thought Embiid should've won MVP. But, that boy Joker, he might be the best player in the league.”

Lillard then broke down his reasoning for picking Jokic. Lillard said that Jokic consistently makes a strong all-around impact within the flow of the game.

“He's one of those players that gets, like, an organic triple-double. Joker plays the game the same every game,” Lillard continued.
“He’ll score 45, he'll get 25 rebounds, sometimes he might have 18 assists, and then he might do all of it in the same game. 45, 22, and 14 … And he doesn't miss shots. Watching him play and playing against him, it's like, (he) don't ever miss.
“Smart as hell, he can shoot, he passes, he plays team ball, he cares about winning, he’s humble, he stays true. I like how Joker does his thing.”

Jokic averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game on 63.2% shooting over 69 regular season games. This came as the big man led Denver to the first seed in the Western Conference (53-29) and finished second in MVP voting. However, he has since upped his level of play in the playoffs. Jokic is averaging 29.9 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 10.3 apg, and 1.1 spg on 53.8% shooting through 15 playoff games.


Nikola Jokic on the Denver Nuggets making their first NBA Finals appearance

Denver Nuggets superstar center Nikola Jokic
Denver Nuggets superstar center Nikola Jokic

Denver Nuggets fans may be thrilled to see their team gearing up for their first NBA Finals appearance. However, the excitement appears to have already worn off for Nikola Jokic. During Saturday’s team practice, Jokic spoke about the Nuggets’ sweep of the LA Lakers in the Western Conference finals to advance to the finals. The big man said that while the win was important, it wasn’t as meaningful as he expected.

“Nah, to be honest. When we won, the win was nice,” Jokic said.

“But like a half hour after that, it was just okay. I thought it was going to be a much bigger feeling, to be honest. I thought I was going to have bigger emotions when we won the game.

“I was really happy. I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes, nice. We made history. This and that.’ At the end of the day, nobody is going to remember us two years from now.”

However, Jokic added that things may change if the Nuggets win the title:

“Maybe if we win it all, maybe it will be different. We will see,” Jokic said.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals between Denver and the winner of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat’s Eastern Conference finals series will take place on Thursday.

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Edited by Shamik Banerjee