Hastings: Nikola Jokic Is A Superstar

The 23-year-old might be the most under-appreciated player in the NBA

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 10, 2018 - 9:22 am

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After losing 114-110 at Toronto on March 27, the Denver Nuggets fell to 40-35 and their playoff hopes appeared all but dead.

But then the players had a team meeting – and they have since won six straight to pull within a game of the playoffs.

“They talked about it: Who believes?” Altitude TV Nuggets analyst Scott Hastings said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Do you still believe that this is possible? They’re on the outside looking in – as they still are – even having won this many games in a row. Do you still believe? It was a pretty strong consensus that they did.”

Denver (46-35) will play Minnesota (46-35) on the road Wednesday. The winner will make the playoffs; the loser won't.

The Nuggets will need a big game from Nikola Jokic, who leads the team with 18.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. Only 23, Jokic might be the most under-appreciated player in the NBA.

In fact, Hastings believes Jokic is a superstar.

“All of us have a different definition of what a superstar is, and I think it’s been a term that we’ve given off too freely and too soon to some players,” Hastings said. “To me, the first thing a superstar does – and I can equate this to when Peyton Manning came to Denver for the Broncos – he raised the entire level, the water level, of the entire building. The level raised. Everybody. He made ball boys better. He made equipment managers better. He made coaches better. He made players better. That, to me, is what a superstar does. 

“Nikola Jokic, he’ll never be a loud guy,” Hastings continued. “He’s clumsy-looking. He looks like a 38 Ford flat-bed truck with a flat tire when he runs. And yet, the dude can play. No one knows him in Philly or New York or Toronto very much or Miami, but the Western Conference knows him. I think he’ll be another guy that I think’s got a chance to be a superstar.”

Hastings believes that Jokic is a victim of the time zone in which he plays.

“It’s such a funky time zone, the Mountain Standard Time, that I just think (players) get lost a little bit,” Hastings said. “Imagine if Stockton and Malone would have played in Chicago their whole careers. They were stars, but they were never giant, mega-Fifth Avenue stars. So I think it’s a funky time zone. I don’t think the East Coast really gets to see (them)."