Step aside, Rudy Gobert. You too, Draymond Green. Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets is now also one of the best defenders in the NBA.

Nikola Jokic plays in the Lamborghini League defending Volkswagen Golf. It is effective. It is effective. But it’s not on your face. It’s not spectacular.

It’s not easy to turn into a poster, as Dikembe Mutombo or Marcus Camby did. It’s just… works.

“(Jokic is) an easy character,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said earlier this week, “because he’s not the shot-blocking athletic guy who plays on the edge.”

And yet, among other things, the reigning NBA MVP is doing better than anyone else in the world, Joker is also absent – insidiously – on the best defensive platform of his Nuggets career.

Prior to Tuesday night’s games, Big Honey was at the top of Basketball-Reference.com’s NBA leaderboards in the defense rankings (96.2, or 96.2 points per 100-ball possession), slightly better than Rudy Gobert of Utah (96.5); Defensive Win Shares (1.0); and Defensive Box Plus / Minus (plus-4.9). He finished third in the defensive rebate percentage (36.9), behind only Gobert and Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic.

Michael Porter Jr. is stuck in a purgatory and Jamal Murray is healing, so the Nuggets have had to reinvent themselves on the fly. So far, Ball Arena is the place where your opponent’s fortunes go to death.

The Nuggets are third among NBA clubs in the defensive standings of Basketball-Reference.com, allowing an estimated 102.9 points per 100 ball possession. The loss to Dallas on Monday night 111-101 was only the fourth game among the Nuggets ’first 14, with Denver giving up 100 or more.

“We have the NBA’s second defense after 13 games,” Malone told reporters last Sunday. “Nikola is the anchor of our defense … he’s doing something right.”

Several things, now that you mentioned it.

Fast feet. Active hands. Talking. Communication. Recognition. Quick adjustments. Tenacity. Discipline. arrogance.

The insult is natural. Defense is upbringing. It’s one of the few basketball skills that can be improved as you get older. If they want.

“For some reason, people always try to smell Nikola that he’s not a good defensive player,” Malone said recently. – He’s defended brilliantly. I think he’s like ninth in the NBA in match-specific shots. He has had a huge impact. ”

On many fronts. Jokic’s blocks (1.4) and passes (2.0) game numbers have risen in the historic MVP season of 2020-21, while his block percentage (2.7%) and defense rebound percentage (36.9%) at Basketball-Reference.com- per site have improved. with a fairly healthy clip compared to last year’s pace (1.9 and 26.1).

Although he has dropped his weight from the middle and added levels to his game, the Joker is not a classic celestial walker. He doesn’t hit shots as much as he competes, interferes, and swaps shots.

“We have a couple of different coverage, and I think the guys are buying,” Jokic said after helping keep Portland at 43.8% off and 12 throws during the 29-point win. “I just like how we help each other even if we make a mistake. We fly to each other. ”

During the Nuggets ’recent 5-0 home game, their opponent’s Start Center averaged 11.8 points, 8.4 boards and 3.2 personal errors per game. Miami Bam Adebayo won 3-10. Jusuf Nurkic was the scorer. The numbers don’t lie. Not even the eyes.

The joker doesn’t jump into contact and hits Douglas County. You won’t hear the engine coming six blocks away. Still, that Golf is always there on the finish line and quietly builds the groundwork for the second MVP award. One opponent a brick at a time.

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