NBA All-Star Weekend has arrived, and each year I get really excited to watch all of the festivities. Most years, I’m primarily interested to see All-Star Saturday night where things like the Slam-Dunk competition and the 3-point shooting contest incorporate some fun and some of the players’ personalities in with the show.
However, for 2019 I’m really looking forward to the All-Star game itself primarily because representatives from my hometown team will be featured. This year marks the first time in a long time that any player from the Denver Nuggets has been named to the All-Star roster.
While Nikola Jokic is a budding star in the NBA, he’s truly a hero among the Nuggets’ fan base for breathing life back into the organization after what was a very long and dark winter. Heading into All-Star weekend, Jokic led the Nuggets to a win over the Sacramento Kings while tallying his 28th career triple-double.
Under Jokic’s leadership, the Nuggets had one of the best starts to the season in franchise history this year, and now that the team’s defense has finally clicked, they’re riding high atop the Western Conference Standings behind the Golden State Warriors by just two games.
However, Jokic isn’t the only Nugget headed to Charlotte for official business. Recently, Nuggets Head Coach Mike Malone and his staff were named as the coaching team for Team LeBron in the main match-up. I’ve been a sharp critic of Malone in years past, but things have truly clicked for both coach and his players this season and I’m pleased to see the results pouring in.
The only thing that could make this weekend better would be Malone and Jokic combining forces with the superstars in the league for an epic All-Star smackdown, but alas, Jokic has been drafted to play for Team Giannis in the competition.
For those who may not know about Jokic and the magic that he brings to the roster, let me say that his scoring abilities take a back seat to the real value that he brings. What Jokic is best at is reading the court, and getting the ball into the hands of those who want to score. He’s said on camera many times how he’d rather not be the guy in the spotlight taking the poster shot, but rather, he wants to be the facilitator that the offense runs through.
And boy does he do that well.
In Denver, Jokic is known as “Magic Jokic” for his passing abilities, and his position fits perfectly on the Nuggets roster as their starting backcourt consists of two shooting guards who work to make cuts for Jokic so he can find them open for the ideal shot. His court vision and understanding of the things that are about to transpire are uncanny, and players don’t need to worry about finding the ball. All they need to do is work to get open, and Jokic will make sure the ball finds them.
The ball movement still lookin' nice. pic.twitter.com/pkexWr5fd5
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) November 20, 2018
Why does this matter for the All-Star game you ask?
Well, Jokic has the opportunity to play with offensive powerhouses like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid, and Kyle Lowry to name just a few. If you think these players are amazing now, wait until they don’t have to spend as much energy finding an open shot
And in case you’re worried about having two centers in the game at once in what’s always an offensive fireworks show, you need not worry. Jokic’s position is truly that of a point-center. He’ll be happy to let Embiid do the heavy lifting under the rim while he works to move the ball around the court.
The result? All-Star brilliance.
The Nuggets roster boasts some incredible fire-power like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, Will Barton and Isaiah Thomas to name just a few, but being able to see Jokic work with some of the best in the league will be an incredible site to see. You may not ordinarily notice Jokic behind the scenes when prominent players like those featured on Team Giannis are on the court, but as the All-Star game gets underway be sure to watch who is getting the ball to the ones who want to score.
If Team Giannis; coach (and Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach) Mike Budenholzer gives Jokic the minutes he deserves, I expect a blowout.