The Denver Nuggets have secured their spot in the 2023 NBA Finals after handily sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Due in part to this impressive win, and the fact that Nikola Jokic was very close to winning his third straight MVP, the whispers have begun, is Nikola Jokic the best player in basketball?
In a word, no.
This is not at all meant to diminish the accomplishments of the Joker. He is unquestionably great. Arguably the best passer in the NBA, high basketball IQ, and a reliable jump shot to boot. Jokic has all the ingredients needed to be an all-time great, and he is already well on his way.
Giannis is better however. In terms of outright impact on a basketball game, it is hard to understate just how effective Giannis Antetokounmpo is. It is obvious that the talented trio of Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic are clearly the best players in the league. What separates Giannis from his contemporaries however, is his defense. The former Defensive Player of the The Year is unquestionably at least a notch above both Embiid and Jokic on the defensive end.
To be sure, Embiid is also pretty good defensively, and Jokic’s poor defensive reputation is highly overstated, but make no mistake, Giannis can almost single-handedly buoy the defensive prowess of just about any team. While Jokic’s basketball IQ means he is a bit better offensively than both Giannis and Embiid, this advantage is not enough to compensate for his defensive shortcomings.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s defensive presence is simply unparalleled. Standing at 6’11” with a 7’3″ wingspan, his combination of size, athleticism, and versatility allows him to guard multiple positions effectively. His ability to protect the rim, switch onto guards, and disrupt passing lanes makes him a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Furthermore, Giannis’ impact on the boards cannot be ignored. His rebounding prowess is on full display every game, as he consistently snatches boards on both ends of the court. His ability to secure defensive rebounds and ignite fast breaks adds another dimension to his game, enabling him to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
While Jokic’s passing ability is often lauded, Giannis is no slouch in that department either. His court vision and passing skills have steadily improved over the years, and he has become a more willing and effective playmaker. Combine that with his speed and agility in transition, and Giannis becomes an unstoppable force on both ends of the court.
Another aspect where Giannis outshines Jokic is his sheer dominance in the paint. Few players in the league possess the strength and explosiveness to challenge him at the rim. Whether it’s finishing through contact, throwing down thunderous dunks, or converting alley-oops, Giannis consistently showcases his ability to overpower defenders and finish at the rim with authority.
Moreover, Giannis has already proven his ability to lead a team to the ultimate success. In 2021, he led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship in 50 years, earning himself the Finals MVP award in the process. His performances throughout the playoffs were nothing short of spectacular, showcasing his ability to rise to the occasion when it matters most.
While Jokic’s individual statistics and offensive skills are certainly impressive, the overall impact that Giannis has on the game sets him apart. His defensive prowess, rebounding dominance, versatility, and leadership make him the complete package.
In conclusion, while Nikola Jokic is undoubtedly one of the best players in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s larger body of work and his ability to impact the game on both ends of the court solidify his status as the best player in basketball. With his relentless work ethic and drive to continually improve, Giannis is poised to maintain his reign as the top player in the league for years to come.