Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic made one of the best passes of the season, one of the best passes of his career, maybe one of the best passes imaginable on Wednesday. He was double-teamed, with three long arms in his face, leaning backward, with the shot and game clocks running down in overtime, and he threw the ball over both defenders, all the way to the other side of the court, precisely when Aaron Gordon became open in the corner.
In case you missed it:
After Gordon made the 3, the Nuggets came away with a 130-128 overtime win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Jokic finished with a stat line that doesn’t even make sense: 49 points, 16-for-25 shooting, 3-for-5 from deep, 14-for-16 from the line, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and a block in 41 minutes. And in his post-game press conference, he said this about that assist:
“I think it’s a normal pass.”
Let’s look at it again from the courtside angle:
Sure, man. That is a normal pass, and that was a normal collar.
The quote, in context: “I mean, I think I made those passes before this one. I think I … kind of make those passes on a regular basis, so I think it’s a normal pass.”
Jokic is a humble dude, but, you know what? I think he’s being sincere. He does make spectacular passes all the time. He does make reads that require you to throw it right on the money in the fraction-of-a-second window when the defense is compromised. This was different because of the time and score and the fact that he had two guys draped all over him, but it probably didn’t feel that different to him.
Earlier in the press conference, Jokic explained what he saw on the play.
“There was a time difference between the (shot clock and game clock) and they just gave me the ball and i just wanted to take (some) time, just to give them (little) time as possible,” he told reporters. “And then (Amir) Coffee come to double-team me, Will Barton pulled in front of me, Jeff (Green) was in the dunker (spot), Monte (Morris) was cutting from the slot — he was on the nail, and he brought, I think, Terance Mann — and A.G. was wide open in the corner.
“I was just waiting for the open pass. I think If I pass it to (Barton), it was like lot of people around that area, so I just wanted to pass to someone who was open.”
It is a simple game, if you see all of that. Most players can’t, at least not under extreme time pressure, with, again, two defenders trying to trap them. That Jokic can see it, immediately, and then actually fire that pass on target? This is why he deserves to win another Most — actually, yeah, no big deal. Normal pass.
(Also: Shoutout to Morris. Great cut!)