Nikola Jokic was playing at his peak level in a much-needed win over Portland Trail Blazers. The bona fide MVP of the NBA this season also attracted praise from the watching ‘Inside the NBA’ panel. Shaquille O’Neal, in particular, was full of praise for the Joker and even compared him to his fellow panelist, Charles Barkley.
In a 128-109 win over the Blazers, the Nuggets center accumulated 38 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. But it was his vital contribution late in the game that garnered the attention of Shaq.
Jokic made all the offensive plays in the fourth quarter; he was responsible for 10 of their final 12 points. He attacked the low post and got his teammates involved as well. It was reminiscent of Charles, who used to dominate the same way when was with the Suns.
“The MVP got 10 out of 12. He did(played) like Chuck used to. Follow me, (Dan) Majerle, follow me, Kevin Johnson. Give me the ball and let me go to work and when I kick it out to you guys, be ready. They were definitely ready tonight,” Shaq told the crew.
Shaquille O’Neal previously overlooked Nikola Jokic for MVP
Notably, Shaq anointed Jokic as the MVP (Most Valuable player). It is not surprising that he’s given his props to Jokic, but what caught the attention is that he was previously fiercely campaigning for the other MVP candidate, Joel Embiid, barely a month ago.
“I would give it to Joel Embiid, right now,” Shaq had made his opinion very clear back in April.
“He is playing the game like he’s supposed to be playing. He’s leading, rebounding, he’s playing inside, he’s out there having fun. His PPG (Points per game) is more than the Joker’s and he’s a little bit better. Not a lot better, he would be a 10 and Jokic’d be a 9.9762541! They are very, very close. But if you ask me my opinion, I am going with Joel Embiid this year.”
We suspect that the panel already knows the verdict of the voting since they also awarded Jordan Clarkson as the sixth man of the year on the show last night. Otherwise, Shaq would not have named Jokic the MVP.