Nuggets top NBA-best Raptors behind Nikola Jokic’s monster triple-double

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/den" data-ylk="slk:Nuggets">Nuggets</a> center <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5352/" data-ylk="slk:Nikola Jokic">Nikola Jokic</a> recorded his 18th career triple-double in a key win over the Raptors on Monday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Nuggets center Nikola Jokic recorded his 18th career triple-double in a key win over the Raptors on Monday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic has emerged as one of the league’s best offensive weapons, and behind his 18th career triple-double on Monday, the Nuggets toppled the league-best Toronto Raptors.

This was the sixth straight win for the Nuggets, who held onto hold onto the Western Conference’s best record at 16-7.

Jokic came up huge in the closing minute with a go-ahead 12-footer with 40 seconds left to give the Nuggets some breathing room. After Kawhi Leonard tied the game at 103 with 7 seconds left, Jokic hit three clutch free throws to seal the game.

Jokic put up 23 points and 11 rebounds, but even more impressively registered 15 assists, one short of his season-high. He dished out seven assists in the first quarter alone and registered his double-double with 5 seconds left in the first half with an assist on Jamal Murray’s dunk.

Some of the passes were truly astonishing.

How does Jokic stack up among other passing big men?

Through 23 games, Jokic is averaging an absurd 7.5 assists per game, which is good for seventh in the NBA overall and by far the most among big men. The next closest center on the list is Anthony Davis at 4.8 assists per game, and even do-it-all forwards like LeBron James (6.7), Kevin Durant (6.2) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (6.0) fall short.

Jokic has steadily improved each year from 2.4 assists to 4.9 to 6.1 last season. He’s been so deferential this season that in addition to his two triple-doubles — the other coming in Denver’s home opener — he also has three double-doubles with just assists and rebounds.

The Serbian 7-footer is already second among centers with 18 career triple-doubles, but he’s a ways away from tying the record. That would belong to Wilt Chamberlain, who recorded 78 triple-doubles before blocked shots were even an official stat.

A man of extraordinary talents

Jokic is so gifted offensively, putting up incredible highlights on a nightly basis. His only shortcoming at this point seemingly is that he’s only a moderate three-point shooter. Still, he knocked down this ridiculous 30-footer while trying to avoid being fouled in the final seconds, although the shot didn’t count.

Well, maybe there’s one more thing Jokic can’t quite do.

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