Top 5 Hypothetical Pairings With Nikola Jokic

(Disclaimer: I’m not including what people would consider “superstars” in this list. Obviously Jokic would dominate with guys like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis, etc…but I wanted to talk about players who maybe fly under the radar a little bit. For example, I took out Ja Morant last minute from this list because he’s suddenly become one of those superstars I wanted to exclude. Just imagine Jokic throwing lobs to Ja though…)

Evan Mobley

Inside Evan Mobley's sparkling NBA debut: 'He's changed the trajectory of  the franchise' - cleveland.com

If you haven’t been paying attention to this rookie yet, it’s about damn time you start. The #3 overall pick in last years draft is already showing why he’s going to be one of the best players in the league someday. He’s like a combination of Anthony Davis, Kevin Garnett, and Chris Bosh. I wish I was joking. While he’s not quite there yet, this man is skilled beyond his years. The 20 year old is already averaging 15.2 PTS, 8.2 REB, and 2.6 AST per game. On top of that, he already has a serious chance of making an All-NBA Defensive Team…In his first year in the league! He’s a truly special young player.

Why he would fit so well with Jokic:

Mobley is kind of a tweener. Not bulky enough (yet) to be a Center, but at 7 feet he’s also a lot bigger than most Power Forwards. Classifying positions in today’s NBA is kind of dumb anyways, so let’s just call him what he is: A really good basketball player.

First his defense:

While the 20 year old is already a great rim protector, what impresses me the most about his defense is his ability to stick with smaller guards on the perimeter.

This would be absolutely invaluable alongside Jokic on the defensive end. Because of his versatility, he’s extremely switchable. Having him in a series against teams like Golden State, Phoenix and Utah would be extra valuable. Also, against the Lakers, he may already be the best player in the league to matchup against Anthony Davis.

And then there’s Mobley on the offensive side of the ball:

This dude does a great job of explaining his offensive potential.

You can see he already has the look of a future elite playmaker. Mobley makes great decisions with the ball in his hands, and despite relatively low assist numbers thus far, you can tell that passing is already a natural part of his game.

Having another playmaker on offense is always a bonus, but what makes him such a good fit with Jokic on offense is his ability to roll to the hoop and create his own shot. As Mobley continues improves his outside shooting, Jokic could throw him lobs, find him on open cuts (Mobley’s already a great cutter), or just toss it to him in the post and let the big guy work. All three are efficient options for Mobley and he’ll only get better with time.

Summary: On offense, Jokic and Mobley together would be terrifying for opposing defenses. On defense, Mobley would help Jokic tremendously.

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson's clutch scoring vs. Nets takes burden off Stephen Curry, a  great sign for Warriors' title hopes - CBSSports.com

You gotta love Klay. This is a guy who barely made the cutoff because of his star power. However, he’s coming off an injury and hasn’t made an All-NBA team since 2016, so I thought he was fair game.

Klay is a killer, there’s no doubt about that. If he wasn’t on the same team as Steph Curry, there’s a good chance people would consider him as the best 3-point shooter of all time. What gets overlooked though is his defense. Since his rookie year in 2011, Klay has consistently been one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. With Steph being somewhat of a liability on that end, Klay being as good as he is on the defensive side of the ball is one of the main reasons Golden State has been able to win 3 championships during his time there.

Why he would fit so well with Jokic:

Just like Steph, Klay is constantly moving around on offense. He needs the tiniest of windows to get his shot off.

He’s also an underrated finisher at the rim.

Imagine a Jokic and Klay pick and roll/pick and pop… It’d be absolutely unstoppable. Klay is also always in motion, bobbing and weaving through defenders better than almost anyone in the league to get his open shot. Draymond Green is a terrific passer and finds Klay more often than not, but he’s no Jokic. Add in Klay’s perimeter defense to help with Joker’s one weakness of protecting the paint, and suddenly we’ve got an all time great pairing with Jokic.

Tyrese Maxey

Sixers' Tyrese Maxey named 2022 NBA Rising Star - Liberty Ballers

Right now, Tyrese Maxey is a good player. He’d pair with Jokic a little better than he’s pairing with Embiid currently, and he pairs with Embiid extremely well. Maxey is a 21 year old point guard who shoots 40% from 3 and plays solid defense. He’s averaging nearly 17 points and 5 assists per game.

But this is more of a future pick for me.

As I said, Maxey is only 21. Watch his defense here on Damian Lillard:

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn good for how young he is. Maxey needs to get a little stronger to better get through screens, but he’s improved dramatically from last year in his on ball defense and he always gives maximum effort, which is half the battle on that end.

I’m really intrigued by his offense:

He’s fast, he has athleticism, and he can create space to get his shot off. Again, he’s just a really good young player.

Why he would fit so well with Jokic:

Maxey would be a perfect pick and roll partner with Jokic. He’s a good passer, a great shooter, and can finish well at the rim. It’s also easier to envision Maxey playing with Jokic because he already plays with a ball dominant center in Embiid. Why I think Maxey would shine even more in the Nuggets offense than he does in the 76ers offense is because Jokic would create more open shots for Maxey than Embiid does. Let’s throw in a Jokic passing highlight video, shall we?

You’re welcome.

Lonzo Ball

BULLS ACQUIRE LONZO BALL | Chicago Bulls

Lonzo Ball, the best Ball brother in the NBA. Yeah I said it. Don’t get me wrong, LaMelo is awesome but he doesn’t affect winning as much as Lonzo does in this stage of their careers. Why?

Lonzo is a fantastic defender.

Noticing a theme here? What can I say, I think Jokic would be at his best with good defensive guards…

When Lonzo was on the trading block with the New Orleans Pelicans, I desperately wanted the Nuggets to pull the trigger on acquiring him. Alas, he got traded to, and signed with the Chicago Bulls who are THRIVING as the #1 seed in the East right now. In large part thanks to Lonzo, who fits in pretty much any scheme, but does best an an environment where unselfishness is rewarded. I feel like people have a misperception about Lonzo because of his dad, but in reality he’s one of the most selfless players in the league. He just plays the game the right way…

Why he would fit so well with Jokic:

Not only would Lonzo fit the unselfish culture of the Denver Nuggets, he would provide much needed shooting on the outside. To those who haven’t been paying attention, Lonzo’s fixed his shot folks. He’s now shooting 42.3% from 3…That’s remarkable, considering he barely shot over 30% his first 2 years in the league.

Once again, the pick and roll with Jokic would be outstanding. Additionally, guys would be flying around the court knowing one of these two will find them if they’re open. And Lonzo would do what he does on defense, AKA being one of the best defensive guards in all of basketball.

Jamal Murray

Jamal Murray is a superstar, on and off the court - Denver Stiffs

“But wait, this isn’t hypothetical?”

Suck it up. It’s my blog, I can do what I want.

Also, it’s been a while. One could argue, right at this very moment, it is hypothetical…

Whatever. I mostly just wanted to prove a point: That Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are the best pairing in the NBA.

It starts and ends with their chemistry in the pick and roll.

But most importantly, you can’t replace brotherly love.

These two thoroughly enjoy playing with each other, and Nuggets fans shouldn’t want it any other way.

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