By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Former eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard has no doubt about what would’ve happened if the prime version of himself faced Nikola Jokic on the floor.
“Prime Dwight Howard,” Howard said when asked by his former Houston Rockets teammate Chandler Parsons to choose between him and “prime Nikola Jokic. He added, “All day, every day. I’m dominating every play with a smile on my face. I’m taking prime Dwight Howard.”
— FanDuel TV (@FanDuelTV) May 29, 2023
The question is of course quite rhetorical for many reasons. Not only Jokic wasn’t even playing in the NBA when Howard was in his heyday but it’s fair to say that the Serbian center hasn’t even reached his peak as a player. We actually haven’t seen “Prime Nikola Jokic” yet.
Howard, a five-time All-NBA First Team member and three-time DPOY, was also a very different kind of player than Jokic, using mainly his outstanding athleticism and immense strength to pulverize and make short work of his opponents on both ends. The Nuggets‘ big man has a vastly larger arsenal as a threat from every corner of the floor while running the offense himself with the passing skill and mindset of an elite decision-making point guard.
Jokic has been establishing himself as possibly the best player in the world right now thanks to his performances in the playoffs and leading the Denver Nuggets to the NBA Finals for the first time in the history of the franchise. It’s all happening in the aftermath of another MVP-caliber season where he had the numbers, winning impact and team performance (the Nuggets finished with the first seed in the Western Conference) that could’ve earned him the threepeat. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid won the MVP trophy.
A few days before the NBA Finals begin, Jokic averages 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists in the postseason, shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 47.4 percent on threes. His Nuggets moved past the Minnesota Timberwolves 4-1, beat Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns 4-2 and then swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.