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USA Today via Reuters

After having gigantic centers like Arvydas Sabonis and Bill Walton in the history of the NBA, the spotlight is now on Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic for his elite passing ability. After Oscar Robertson, the 29-year-old became the next to put up 18 rebounds, 26 points, and 16 assists in a game. Amidst the tight competition, Jokic’s dominant performances helped him maintain his position as one of the strongest players. Although teams have attempted various tactics to stop the big man, many “Don’t see anybody stopping” Nikola Jokic. 

Discussing the challenges to face while playing the Nuggets and Jokic, NBA veteran Rajon Rondo appeared on the latest episode of ‘All The Smoke Podcast’, and shared his thoughts on how he as a coach would advise to prep a team to play against the Nuggets and, most importantly, slow down Jokic.  Rondo said, “First of all, you have to have the personnel. I think the last team that slowed him down was us in the bubble, Dwight (Howard), and I think we had Dwight Javele (McGee). We had three seven-footers that we can throw at him, so I think the closest team is cat-healthy.

Rondo continued, “Yeah so I mean I think the team that has the best shot, it would probably be the two-footers that you know Minnesota can throw at him but again if I was the West Coast team my two bigs would probably be watching Joker the entire year. If I’m prepping that way, I’m studying all his tendencies. I’m seeing you know when he draws fouls, when he becomes dominant… What game were his games where he was slowed down… How many free throws did he shoot? How many 3 attempts did he make? I’m breaking the game down, with his game in particular the entire season if I got to go against him in the playoffs…”

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‘Johnny’ also mentioned that Jokic isn’t athletic and how the team can take advantage of that. Rando said, “That’s why I feel like our bigs, we were able to throw Dwight… That’s long athletic you know a student of the game and you got AD that doesn’t have to check him every possession but now he has to go against AD. So now we get an offense, AD’s attacking Joker… You want him to play both sides… Put him in pick and roll, put him in pin downs… Put him in a lot of pin downs, force him to switch if not attack him…”

Rondo highlighted that assessing the Joker’s game is the most essential way to find his weaknesses and the strategies of other teams that have at least managed to slow down the Nuggets’ player. Boston Celtics’ guard, Jaylen Brown said the Joker “is just a monster down there(on the court).” At the level Jokic is progressing, it seems coaches may not have many options but to rely on Rajon Rondo’s words for now. At least, it’s more effective than Darvin Ham’s idea, if not humorous. Stressed by Jokic’s killer performance last year, Ham previously suggested that the only way to stop the Nuggets star is to kidnap Jokic before the game. 

READ MORE: Tagging Tim Duncan as a “Problem”, Ex-Nuggets Star Confesses to Adopting 1 Tactic Only to Overpower 5x NBA Champ

The reason why Jokić is the most entertaining player is because of his versatility. His abilities not only make him a threat to the opponents but enhance the Nuggets’ overall offensive efficiency. The list is long, with him being one of the most efficient scorers in the league and possessing unrivaled passing skills coupled with laser-like precision.

Aaron Gordon spent his summer in Serbia to learn Jokic’s “congruent” way of life  

In the recent game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jokic delivered a monstrous performance. He scored a 26-point, 18-rebound and 16-assists. This was the sixth time in his career that he scored at least 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 assists in a game.

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Nuggets power forward, Aaron Gordon had revealed that he doesn’t see any opponent who is capable of stopping Jokic in the 2023-24 NBA season. He said, “He’s only 28. So he’s going to get even smarter at manipulating the defense, and offense… I don’t see anybody stopping him. They still haven’t found the answer for him yet.” Since Gordon had a chance to spend a portion of his summer with Jokic in Serbia, he got a closer look at his daily routine and was impressed by the 29-year-old. He further added, “His routine over there, his way of life, very congruent. I could see his peace. The peace of mind translates onto the court. That’s what makes him such a good player.”

About Jokic’s prowess in the game, Reggie Jackson, said, “It’s very hard to stop him. One of the most gifted scorers in this league, and he doesn’t want to score. He wants to pass, he wants to play the right way, which makes him extremely hard to guard. One of the smartest players I’ve ever been around who can handle it, pass it, shoot it, and score it at all three levels… He’s one of the most encouraging guys, one of the best superstars…”

Even Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets HC, has appreciated Jokic for leading by example. Malone said, “… That’s what I love about him probably more than anything is how selfless he is. It’s not about him getting 26, 18, and 16, it’s about how he was so into the game tonight. So into the huddles, talking to guys, being vocal on the court, that shows you the investment. It speaks to his maturity, his leadership, his accountability, ownership, everything that you would apply to truly great players.”

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While he probably joked about it, his idea is a reminder of how that might become the only to counter the basketball genius. Perhaps the Nuggets should keep an eye out for any kidnappers, too. What is your take on this? Let us know in the comments section below.

READ MORE: ‘I was Never Offered a Deal’: Dwight Howard Makes a Surprising Revelation About His Situation with Los Angeles Lakers

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Written by:

Pritha Debroy

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Pritha is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. After reporting on the luxurious lifestyle of celebrities for a year, she used that experience to cover the glamor side of the basketball world. She has expertly covered Larsa Pippen and Marcus Jordan's complicated love story and the lavish vacations of NBA superstars, among other off-court scoops.
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Edited by:

Jacob Gijy