LeBron James is one of the best two-way players in the league. His size, quickness, heft, and intelligence enable him to defend all five positions on the floor. James’ ability to switch on guys, whether small or big, makes him an opposing coach’s nightmare. However, for reigning MVP Nikola Jokić, seeing LeBron on him translates to "buckets."
Jokić mocks James’ defense
In a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jokić found himself at the low post when LeBron switched with him on the play. The Serbian surveyed the court, assessed his options, and then asserted himself over The King. James played good defense, but Jokić’s offense was better. For him, it’s always a mismatch for their team.
Physically, the Serbian center may not be too athletic, nor can he jump high or quick enough, but that’s part of what makes Jokić one of a kind. He can always get to his spots, and Nikola knows where he can score from and does not force things. Plus, the Denver Nuggets star is one of the best passing big men of the game today. Teams doubling or trapping him early always pay the price. It may not seem like a dominating game, but more often than not, the score sheet will later reveal The Joker has recorded a triple-double.
LeBron has been on top of his game defensively and offensively, so it’s a bit surprising he was taken advantage of in matchups. It does not happen often, but sooner or later, when age has finally caught up with him, with years of mileage on his legs and body, James will eventually slow down like every other legendary player before him.
Is Jokić the most unpopular MVP ever?
Jokić just joined the growing list of international players dominating the NBA. He won the MVP last season, continuing the streak of non-US players ruling the NBA. Traditionally, either former MVPs get featured on opening games or during Christmas games but not Nikola. He became the first MVP not to get featured in widely watched games since 2008.
Nikola Jokić has a low-key personality, and he would not mind such a slight from the NBA. If at all, it would fuel him to work harder to push the team to the next level in the absence of the injured Jamal Murray. Unlike anyone else in the league, Jokić loves it when LeBron is on him. He then gets to show who deserves the national spotlight.