There have been many great passing big men in NBA history. Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Arvydas Sabonis are all known for being great passers. But now, Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is challenging all the aforementioned names for the title of Best Passing Big Man Ever.
In Game 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers, Jokic finished with 13 assists; the only centers to dish out 13 or more assists in a playoff game are Chamberlain and Nikola Jokic.
Matt Moore: After he’s gone, after he has left the game and returned to Serbia forever, we’ll look at this game and be looking at the box score thinking how did they beat that Clippers team. They had Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Jokic only had 16 points
Adam Mares: I’ve seen this take out there. I think that stat line is insane. I know it’s only 16 points and that’s what people care about, but 22 rebounds, 13 assists, three blocked shots, and two steals. I mean, that’s everything. And that’s what it felt like by the way, that box score reflects what the game felt like and that Jokic, especially in that second half, just controlled every possession on both ends.
Matt: Well, it’s crazy, you say that, and I think his game was better than the box score, even with 22 rebounds and 13 assists, right? He was so in control of that game. The playoffs are about mastery. They are about, can you master the moment? Can you dictate what happens? Can you say if you do this, I’m going to punish you with this? And if you know the other thing, I’m going to punish you with this. I’m not going to let you get to these things that you want to do. And Nikola Jokic just absolutely dominated in control of the game.
Kawhi Leonard’s whole approach was going to be ‘I’m going to make some tough shots’ and he didn’t do that. He came up really short in that regard. But the bigger thing here is just that Nikola Jokic was brilliant. This is the best passing game by a Big Man in NBA playoff history, and if you ask me about better playoff passing games, I will probably go to like some of the old Lakers games of Magic. There’s a few Chris Paul ones. I don’t know of many others. This is one of the best passing performances in NBA history.