Nikola Jokic could lead the NBA in scoring if he wanted: Why Nuggets star is actually the league’s best scorer

Nikola Jokic doesn’t average the most points per game in the league. That honor belongs to Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who is dropping 34.5 points per game to Jokic’s 26.1.

Joker could probably take that top spot if he put his mind to it rather than treating shooting like a last resort when a pass isn’t open. He’s not often in the discussion of best scorers, but when teams really need a basket, there is no better option than Jokic.

Here’s why Jokic’s bucket-getting gets short shrift, and how he is the most unstoppable scorer in the league. 

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Nikola Jokic has the best floater in the tracking data era

The most efficient shots in basketball are layups and 3s. The least efficient shots are from midrange. That’s true for almost every player except Jokic because he has the best floater in the league by a mile. 

Tracking data only goes back to the late 90s, but Jokic might be in all-time territory with that shot. His touch is unbelievable, and he has supreme confidence in it.

What other player in the league who can hit 35.1 percent from 3 would pass up a wide-open look in order to dribble into a contested floater?

Jokic does this all the timeintentionally dribbling into a sea of defenders rather than shooting wide-open jumpers.

It’s not as if he’s a bad jump shooter — he shoots 45.3 percent on long midrange shots, per Cleaning the Glass. His Sombor Shuffle is the stuff of legends. His best shot just happens to be that floater, and he knows it. 

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Nikola Jokic is a post-up god

They say that the post-up is dead in the NBA, but don’t tell that to Joker. He still posts up on 25.9 percent of his possessions, the highest mark in the league.

Jokic is allowed to do that because of how unstoppable he is in those plays. He breaks the math by shooting 60.9 percent from the field out of the post. Smaller guys have absolutely zero shot against him down there. He’s way too strong for them and will back them down for easy layups. 

The burly guys have just as much trouble because of how agile he is. Jonas Valanciunas might be the strongest guy in the league. Jokic has him looking like Rudy Gobert on Stephen Curry here:

Jokic has all of the post moves. Power moves, up-and-unders and hook shots that he can get off against Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year with a 7-9 wingspan. 

Jokic is obviously an extremely dangerous passer out of the post as well, but it’s his scoring ability that makes that the case. If teams don’t bring an extra defender in against him, then they’re toast. 

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Nikola Jokic is underrated on putbacks

Jokic’s offensive rebounding is rarely talked about either, but he is in elite territory there. He rebounds a little over 12 percent of his team’s misses, ranking in the 86th percentile of players.

What makes Jokic a fun rebounder is his mastery of angles. He’s so good at tracking the ball that he finds all sorts of little tricks to steal rebounds. 

For instance, check out when the Mavericks had all five guys crashing against just him. He was surrounded by three players. Knowing he couldn’t get the ball, he tipped it off the backboard to himself. 

Jokic will often take the approach of a volleyball player, setting it to himself before tipping it in. He has an extremely soft touch on those putbacks. 

Of the 268 players with at least 10 putbacks, Jokic has the sixth-most in the league and is shooting an excellent 62.9 percent on those looks. In the rare times that he does miss, he’s usually in great position to grab it and drop it right in. 

MORE: Nikola Jokic thinks so fast he fools his own Nuggets teammates

Nikola Jokic could lead the league in scoring if he shot more

So why doesn’t Jokic lead the league in scoring? He’s No. 13 in the league in points per game but No. 21 in shot attempts per game. He’s wildly efficient, unstoppable on a number of different types of shots and can get to his spots whenever he wants. 

Jokic is simply not that interested in scoring titles. Instead, he takes what defenses give him, making the correct pass when he draws double teams. 

As he told TNT in a postgame interview, “Assist makes two people happy. Point just makes one people happy.” 

Jokic will take over and score if the defense gives him those shots. His 41 points in Game 2 of the 2023 Finals proves that. But he’s a passer first, and a scorer second. He just so happens to be the best at both. 

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