The NBA is the best basketball league in the world. And with this tag, fans expect to see the most athletic basketball players perform at the highest level night in and night out. However, from time to time, there are one or two players who stick out for not jumping as high as expected or not being as speedy as they should.
No athleticism needed
Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokić is one of those guys. He knows he's not as beastly as someone like Joel Embiid. Aware of his shortcomings, Jokić poked fun at himself and Luka Dončić — another player not known for his athletic prowess.
"Off the court, I think we're doing really good job. But we're going to see on the court. I don't know how we're going to do it because he's not athletic, I'm not athletic, so I don't know how we're going to match."
Nikola Jokić, Denver Post
Nikola was talking about the All-Star game. The Serbian and the Slovenian were picked to play for Team LeBron. While nothing's really at stake, Jokić seemed worried about how he'll mesh with Dončić, especially since the All-Star game has become the stage where the best players in the world show off their athletic gifts.
This is not the first time Jokić pointed out his rather unorthodox playstyle (at least compared to NBA players). The Nuggets star has been praised for his playmaking abilities, particularly his patience in reading defenses. Instead of acknowledging the compliments, Jokić revealed the real reason for his patience.
Since stepping foot in the NBA, fans and analysts have noticed Dončić's lack of athleticism as well. They immediately compared him to Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird precisely because of this. Like Bird, Dončić comes off as an unassuming caucasian baller who might not be able to stand his ground against his foes. But once the game begins, Luka shows off why he's not just better than every player on the floor. He also proves that athleticism doesn't matter when you have the killer instincts for the game.
Interestingly, Dončić and Jokić have been in the MVP conversations in the past few years. Jokić himself is the reigning MVP of the league. And even today, some have placed him right under Joel Embiid in the MVP ladder. Whatever the case may be, Luka and Nikola are standing proof that all you need is a sound basketball mind to make it to the big leagues. And well, being tall helps.