There were murmurs in recent years that the Center position is dying in the NBA. As the so-called “small ball” scheme based on spreading the floor took center stage, the post skills became redundant. The league, however, has seen a revival of that position. The emergence of Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic has shown that the big men are well and alive. Jokic has been a generational player and has taken the league by storm. He has etched his name among NBA’s heralded names after winning the NBA title and also the MVP. 

So, where does he stand in the decorated club of big men who graced the NBA floor? This season he has closed the gap with some of the biggest names in the league.

Nikola Jokic gets a shout-out from one of the best ever 


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Jokic is the only Center to put up so many triple-doubles. He had a sensational Playoffs and his performance belongs to the record books. That’s why it is not surprising that he got praise from one of the best big men in the game; Shaquille O’Neal. Diesel welcomed Joker into the “Big Man Alliance” through his Instagram story. Here, his name can be seen among some of the greatest Centers ever to adorn the NBA legacy. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain, Shaq, Bil Russell, Hakeem the “Dream”, DRob, and Pat Ewing are names that are counted among the legends. While Jokic has a lot of catching up to do regarding Shaq, Wilt, Jabbar, and Russell, he has gotten on par with Robinson and Ewing.  Apart from Wilt in the list, Jokic is a better passer than all the other Centers. However, we are talking about an era where bigs were just supposed to clog the lane. 


via Imago

What makes Jokic unique as a Center is his ability to be a Floor General and also pop in threes. It can be argued that, ironically, he has benefited from the three-point-focused era. With all the guards and wings gravitating towards the long-range shooters, the scope of double-teaming him decreases. His ability to pass from tricky angles makes him an unguardable player and you have to check the open shooters. Using his incredible footwork in the post, he opens up opportunities for hook shots, fadeaways, and also tough inside finishes. His ability to play as a spot-up shooter is incredible as well. 

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What will be Jokic’s legacy?

A championship, a Finals MVP, two MVPs, triple-double records, and much more already decorate the career of the Serbian phenom. As the Nuggets big drown in alcohol after creating history, the future prospects are in the background. However, this is the brutal world of the NBA. To win another championship, it is the same old 80-odd games grind followed by relentless competition in the Playoffs. 


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USA Today via Reuters

Jokic has had to overcome a lot of disrespect from contemporary media and the Nuggets are a small-market team. But regardless of that, he has already earned a place among the greats of the league. 

Shaq welcoming him into the club of elite big men is a huge deal.  Let us see how far the Joker goes!


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