MVP Nikola Jokic modeled his game after 3 Spurs greats

Nikola Jokic, Lamarcus Aldridge
Nikola Jokic, Lamarcus Aldridge / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named NBA MVP for the second straight season on Wednesday, and he mentioned a few San Antonio Spurs greats when asked about his game.

The dominant big man is the 13th player in NBA history to win back-to-back regular-season MVPs, and he now shares the achievement with other legends of the game like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James. The most recent back-to-back winner was Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2019 and 2020.

Nikola's stats were just ridiculous this year. He posted 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game while boasting an insane league-leading Win Share of 15.2. Still, he'd be the first to say he'd trade individual honors for team success, which isn't a surprise when you consider who he modeled his game after.

Asked that by TNT's Ernie Johnson after accepting his award in Serbia, Jokic named three Spurs off the top of his head.

"Of course, Tim Duncan," said Jokic. "I think he's a great player. Someone you can look up to. I was always looking for something like Dirk [Nowitzki], LaMarcus Aldridge, Boris Diaw. Those kinds of guys that aren't flashy."

Nikola Jokic has parts of multiple Spurs in his game

In watching Jokic on the court, it's easy to see a bit of every guy he mentioned in the interview. He has tremendous footwork inside like Duncan, can shoot from the outside like Dirk, nails mid-range shots like LaMarcus, and passes well like Boris.

Actually, passes well is underselling it. Jokic is already the best passing big man the game has ever seen, and it's not even particularly close.

As fellow Air Alamo Reign Amurao wrote about recently, Boris Diaw's unconventional game included a devastating passing repertoire as well. Those skills ultimately helped the Spurs win one last title with Tim Duncan in 2014.

Seeing what Nikola Jokic has done with the Denver Nuggets, who've suffered several huge injuries over the last couple of years, is remarkable. When he starts getting more help on the court with the returns of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr, his Nuggets should be back to being a real title contender immediately.

Next. The Top 30 San Antonio Spurs Ever. dark

While he may continue to be a pain in the Spurs' sides for years to come, it's nice to see a Spurs-like player succeeding so much as a team player in a league so focused on individual stars.