Former NBA player says Nikola Jokic is close to surpassing Stephen Curry as best player in league

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jay Williams believes that Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic is close to passing Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry as the best player in the NBA right now.

Jokic put together a monster performance on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, leading Denver to a win. The two-time MVP finished the game with 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting (3-of-3 from 3-point range), 21 rebounds, 14 assists and two blocks.

He dominated all game, even though Lakers star Anthony Davis scored 40 points himself in the loss.

“Jokic was the best player on the floor by a mile,” Williams said of Jokic’s performance in Game 1. “And when A.D. did choose to guard him one on one, I think Jokic exploited that matchup. They brought double teams in. I don’t understand why they would bring double teams in as A.D. is the primary defender. Down towards the end of the game, they had Rui Hachimura on him, and I thought that was a better matchup because you could bring A.D. off the ball as a double teamer.


“But man, the performance by Jokic last night was just special. It was special. He’s proving to be the best player in basketball. He’s still trying to win the crown. I’m not going to give that to him because it’s still Steph’s until Jokic takes it from the mantle. But it’s moving towards that direction.”

In the eyes of some, Jokic still has to do one thing that Curry did last season, which is lead his team to an NBA title. After that, he may actually take the crown as the game’s best player.

The Nuggets center impacts the game in so many ways, setting up his teammates for easy baskets while also being able to score from all three levels of the floor himself.

The Lakers did make a run late in the game with Hachimura on Jokic and Davis helping off the ball, but the Nuggets big man was able to get to the line late in the fourth quarter to help ice the game.

The win for Denver moved it to 9-3 in the playoffs and a perfect 7-0 at home. The team dominated at home in the regular season, going 34-7, so it is hoping to handle business at Ball Arena against the lower-seeded Lakers.

It’s hard to argue with Williams’ take, as Davis has been dominant against most players this postseason. However, he couldn’t keep Jokic in check on Tuesday night.

That shows just how talented the Nuggets star is, and if he can lead the franchise to its first title in history, then he may be able to take over as the league’s top star.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.