Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic joins ultra elite NBA company

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) greets fans after the game against the Charlotte Hornets Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) greets fans after the game against the Charlotte Hornets Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Nikola Jokic becomes the first player in the 3-point era to achieve a unique triple-double in an exciting win over the Hornets.

Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic is an All-Star and two-time league MVP. Sunday night, in a narrow 115-119 home win over the Charlotte Hornets he was doing MVP things. Jokic posted a historic triple-double that included 40 points, 27 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The Joker is only the third player in NBA history to post such statistics, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.

Moreover, Jokic’s performance was the first time we have seen this unique stat line since the ’60s; making Jokic the first player to have at least 40-points, 25-rebounds, and 10-assists in a triple-double in the 3-point era.

Before Jokic, the last time a triple-double was recorded meeting the above statistical requirements was March 18, 1968.

Could Nikola Jokic win another MVP this season?

The Nuggets are currently tied with the New Orleans Pelicans at 18-11 for second in the NBA’s Western Conference standings. Both teams trail only the Memphis Grizzlies who sit atop the West at 19-10.

Because only one game separates the top three teams, it is well within the realm of possibility The Joker and the Nuggets could be the West’s first seed by season’s end. If they are, and Jokic continues his league-wide domination will he win the award for a third consecutive season?

The answer is no. Because there will be voter fatigue and that will make it difficult for Jokic to win his third MVP award this season. It will probably happen someday, given Jokic is right in the middle of his prime at 28 years old.

At this point in his career, another MVP would look nice individually. However, the next step Jokic needs to take for himself and the Nuggets is more playoff success.

Last year they lost in the first round to the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors 4-1. Yes, GSW went on to win the title, but the Nuggets were not very competitive in the series. Perhaps, that sheds light on how far away last year’s version of the Nuggets was from a title.

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This year, Jokic looks more focused than ever, he is rounding into mid-season form. While the rest of the squad around him is mostly healthy for the first time in a long time. At the moment, the Nuggets do not look like they are headed for another early playoff exit.