So far in the month of November, Nikola Jokic has not been scoring at all. Which is unexpected because he started the year as potential MVP candidate. In October, he averaged a very strong 21.6 points per game, along with 10.6 rebound per game and an outstanding 7.6 assists per game all while shooting 54% from the field and a stellar 44% from three-point range. Jokic had a historic performance against the Phoenix Suns, dropping 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists while not missing a single shot. The only player to have a stat line like that was Wilt Chamberlain. It was expected that he would maintain or even exceed his performance. However, this was not the case.
In November (four games), albeit a small sample size, something has been off with his scoring game. Jokic is only scoring 5.8 points per game and has not hit a three-pointer yet. Unlike a typical shooting slump, he’s not even shooting the ball. Through the first 4 games of November, he shot the ball only 18 times. Compared to the last 4 games of October where he shot 56 times. That’s 9.5 shots per game he isn’t taking.
In spite of this, the Denver Nuggets won three straight. In those games, Jokic only scored only four, seven, and eight points but still had nearly eight assists per game. The latest loss against the Memphis Grizzlies, Jokic only shot one time through 26 minutes. He was foul trouble throughout the game but consistently passed on wide open shots in the paint, mid-range, and three-point range. Especially since Jamal Murray and the other starters did not shoot the ball well either, his scoring was much needed.
What Does This Mean for The Rest of the Season?
It is very hard to believe that Jokic won’t get out of this pass-first and never-shoot mentality. We have seen this aspect of his game before. Most Likely, it is just a confidence issue because he has had a similar stretch of games last year when he did not shoot and gave the ball to Paul Millsap too much. Back then, he did not realize that he should be the number one option every game. It is clear both players know how to more comfortably play with each other now. However, it still seems like Jokic is deferring to other players like Murray, Gary Harris, and even Torrey Craig, who is not a known shooter.
Jokic is still playing good defense and passing at an elite level. Expect him to regain his confidence in the coming games as the Nuggets need his scoring. If the Nuggets starters continue to struggle it will be interesting to see what specifically coach Michael Malone does to help Jokic regain that confidence. Which is good for everyone, as he has the ability to be one of the most dominant scorers in the entire league.
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