Why Nikola Jokić is Tim Duncan’s favorite player to watch

Why Nikola Jokić is Tim Duncan’s favorite player to watch

When your nickname is “The Big Fundamental,” and your signature move is a midrange bank shot, it’s no surprise were never the flashy player on the court. But for most of his career, Tim Duncan was the best player on the court. We notice dunks and crossovers; he cracks a smile when someone has nice footwork. 

It’s always interesting to find out who other players appreciate and enjoy watching. Those are moments in which we get to learn about basketball, but also about the person giving the answer. Coming from the Spurs, it’s no surprise Tim Duncan likes to watch teams that have an egalitarian system in which the superstar plays team-first basketball. Who fits the description in today’s basketball?

“I like watching Denver; I like watching Jokić. I like watching The Joker; he’s a lot of fun. His creativeness, his footwork, his passing – it’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Tim Duncan, Real Ones

Of course, he didn’t just highlight Jokić, but the entire Denver team and the way they play. Another team, Duncan pointed out, was Miami and their bubble run. Similar to Denver, even when Jimmy Butler takes over a game, it’s still a very team-oriented system with a ball handling playmaking big in Bam Adebayo

Duncan shaped his basketball identity in an era of post-play; that’s what teams built around. Even when they adapted to the three-point era (earlier than most teams), the Spurs didn’t do it through ISO plays but through ball movement and playmaking. 

As much as we identify Tim Duncan with Manu, Tony, and the best team ever to play – the ’13/’14 Spurs – that style a play happened to Tim Duncan, it wasn’t who he was. He learned the game under David Robinson, and that’s why the post and midrange are where Tim Duncan still finds basketball joy.