Nikola Jokic continues to build an MVP case by doing things that no center has done since Wilt Chamberlain.
On Tuesday, Jokic collected the 50th triple-double of his career with 37 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to help the Denver Nuggets rout the Milwaukee Bucks 128-97 at the Fiserv Forum.
Jokic’s latest milestone put him in rarefied company for big men. He became only the second center ever to reach 50 career triple-doubles, according to ESPN Stats and Info research, joining Chamberlain, who had 78. Jokic is also just the ninth player in history to record 50 triple-doubles, and only Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson did it faster than him, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“It’s nice, of course,” Jokic said of doing something only Chamberlain has done among centers in the history of the game. “It is something that [for] my legacy to put behind me. It’s cool just to be in that group of guys, especially with one of the best players to ever play the game. Just a nice accomplishment.”
Jokic entered the game averaging career-highs in points (27.1), rebounds (11.0), assists (8.5), 3-point field goal shooting percentage (41.1%) and free throw shooting percentage (88.2%) this season.
He has nine triple-doubles this season and has missed another six triple-doubles by either one assist or one rebound.
“He’s only 25 years old, which is amazing,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said. “Nikola has 50 career triple-doubles, but he also has 20 games [in his career] where he missed a triple-double by either one rebound or one assist. It just speaks to his greatness. The guy doesn’t get fatigued, he doesn’t get tired.”
Jokic made 15-of-23 shots to help snap Milwaukee’s five-game winning streak. Besides reaching 50 career triple-doubles, Jokic’s average of 8.5 assists is something no center has done in a season since Chamberlain, who is the only center to have ever led the league in total assists.
One area Jokic can’t keep up with Chamberlain in is dunks, but he is on a personal-best pace. Jokic dunked three times against the Bucks and has 20 slams on the season. He has never dunked more than 23 times in a season, which happened during 2016-17, his second season in the league.
“He has been a dunking machine as of late,” said Malone, who joked that Jokic should try to enter this weekend’s All-Star dunk contest. “We joke about it, but it really does speak to his overall conditioning, staying in great shape and being disciplined.
“Most people are emotional eaters, right?” Malone said. “If you have any reason to overeat, it’s this season. It’s been crazy. Can’t leave the hotel, get tested three times a day. But Nikola has laser focus and discipline. He has been just a machine for us. And for him to attack the basket, dunk and hang on the rim as much as he has this year is really fun to watch.”
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