Nikola Jokic's MVP campaign reached a new height when the center scored a career-high 50 points with 12 assists and eight rebounds on Saturday night. Haters will point to the fact that the Nuggets lost to the Kings, 119-114, but sometimes it's OK to appreciate an individual's performance — especially on a night where a 6'11 center put up Hall of Fame point guard numbers.
Jokic's reign this season has been beyond impressive even if his Nuggets team hasn't been. In his sixth season, the 25-year-old is averaging a career-high 26.1 points on 56.7% shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from 3-point range, 11.6 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks. It's a shame his teammates have been injured for portions of the season, resulting in a 12-10 record nearly one-third of the way into the season. But don't mistake the losing for Jokic failing to meet his incredibly high standards. He's crushing them.
On Saturday, Jokic took 33 shots, handling the Nuggets offense with both Gary Harris and Jamal Murray sidelined. He made 22 of them, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range. In 41 minutes, he only turned the ball over once while dishing 12 assists. He also blocked three shots and snagged a steal. That's absurd. The very existence of a player built like him who succeeds in the ways he does is absurd.
Whether or not Jokic wins the award will come down to how Denver finishes the year compared to Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and the Lakers, Kevin Durant and the Nets, Joel Embiid and the Sixers, Stephen Curry and the Warriors, or maybe another star who'll join the fold. But there's no doubt Jokic has taken yet another leap forward as not only one of the best centers in the league but one of the best players in the league. Fantasy managers who have the No. 1 player in 9-cat leagues already knew this.
Now let's talk about the 11 games played on Saturday night.
Knicks 110, Trail Blazers 99
Damian Lillard — In his first game back from an abdominal strain, Lillard was fantastic, scoring 29 points on 10-of-20 shooting with nine assists. He added four steals, nine assists, and four rebounds in 38 minutes.
Enes Kanter — Kanter posted his seventh consecutive double-double of the season with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting with 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Julius Randle — Randle's incredible season continued with a 22-point, 11-rebound showing in a win over the Blazers. He added four assists and just one turnover in 39 minutes.
Elfrid Payton — Payton had his second straight game with at least 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He had 22/7/4 as the Knicks starting point guard. Maybe that'll quiet Knicks fans upset about Immanuel Quickley coming off the bench.
Robert Covington — Covington knocked down three triples for 13 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and one block. This is the game fantasy managers want from Covington every night.
Kings 119, Nuggets 114
Nikola Jokic — Yeah, as mentioned, he was dang good.
Paul Millsap — Millsap had a nice night filling in the scoring load Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, who were both sidelined. He scored 14 points and made three 3-pointers with five rebounds and an assist.
Harrison Barnes — Barnes shot well, scoring his 28 points on 10-of-16 shots, sinking five 3-pointers. That tied his most makes from range on the season. He also added seven rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Tyrese Haliburton — The rookie is special. He scored 23 points off the bench on 8-of-12 shooting with six assists, four steals, two steals, and one block.
De'Aaron Fox — Fox scored 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting, sinking four 3-pointers. He also dished five assists with just two turnovers in 38 minutes.
Richaun Holmes — The Kings had four guys score 20 or more points. Holmes double-doubled with 21 on 9-of-13 shooting with 10 rebounds.
RJ Hampton — The rookie got his longest stretch of the season with Denver banged up. In 26 minutes, he scored seven points on 3-of-6 shooting with 10 rebounds, two assists, and one block.
Bulls 118, Magic 92
Zach LaVine — When LaVine gets going he's one of the most exciting scorers in the league. He finished with 39 on 16-of-25 shooting including 5-of-6 from 3-point range. He also grabbed seven boards with four assists.
Nikola Vucevic — It was a bad night for the Magic in general, but Vucevic was decent. He scored 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two blocks.
Mo Bamba — Bamba had his best game of the season, making 7-of-8 shots in 12 minutes for 14 points. He also added seven rebounds, one assist, and three blocks.
Sixers 124, Nets 108
James Harden — With both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant sidelined, Harden had a chance to take over the Nets as his own team. It didn't work as a whole, but he played well, flirting with a triple-double. He scored 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting with three 3-pointers, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.
Joel Embiid — The MVP candidate did what he does. He scored 33 points on 10-of-21 shooting including 13-of-14 free throws with nine rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Ben Simmons — Simmons also toyed with a triple-double, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 12 rebounds and eight assists. He added three steals but did turn the ball over six times.
Tobias Harris — Harris's most efficient season continued as he scored 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting. He also added 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block.
Landry Shamet — Without two of the team's leading scorers, Shamet stepped up to score 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting including five triples.
Norvel Pelle — Pelle finally got minutes for the Nets, scoring two points on 1-of-4 shooting with five rebounds and three blocks in 17 minutes off the bench.
Hawks 132, Raptors 121
Chris Boucher — Boucher has been one of the biggest surprise players of the year, and he was once again Toronto's most impressive contributor. He scored 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting including two 3-pointers. He also added 10 rebounds though he did only make 7-of-13 free throws.
Clint Capela — Capela scored 23 points on an efficient 10-of-13 shooting with 16 rebounds. He also blocked four shots.
Trae Young — Young scored 28 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field (two 3-pointers) and a perfect 14-of-14 shooting from the free-throw line. He also added 13 assists but turned the ball over seven times.
Pascal Siakam — He only scored 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting, but he did just about everything else. He grabbed six rebounds, dished three assists, poked away three steals, and swatted a pair of shots. He also had no turnovers in 33 minutes.
Fred VanVleet — It wasn't another 50-point night or anything, but VanVleet scored 25 points on 6-of-18 shooting including three triples, 10 assists, and two steals.
John Collins — Collins scored 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting and made 3-of-6 3-pointers. He added seven rebounds, four assists, and three blocks.
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Bucks 124, Cavaliers 99
Khris Middleton — Middleton's ridiculously efficient season continued with a 20-point night on 8-of-13 shooting including 4-of-5 makes from distance.
Andre Drummond — The Cavs might've gotten smoked, but Drummond got his. He scored 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting with 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and four turnovers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo — It wasn't a gaudy stats night, but Giannis was still good. He scored 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting with 11 rebounds and five assists. He turned the ball over three times in 32 minutes.
Jrue Holiday — The third member of Milwaukee's Big 3 was stellar, scoring 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting with eight assists, three rebounds, two steals, one block, and just one turnover in 25 minutes.
Larry Nance Jr. — Returning from a wrist injury, Nance Jr. still only shot the ball three times and finished with four points, five rebounds, and one assist in 23 minutes.
Spurs 111, Rockets 106
DeMar DeRozan — With Lonnie Walker IV out, DeRozan carried the Spurs offensively. He scored 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting (one triple) with eight rebounds and seven assists. He also sunk 11-of-12 free throws.
John Wall — Wall scored 27 points to lead Houston on 10-of-19 shooting. He also dished seven assists with two rebounds and a block.
Eric Gordon — Off the bench, Gordon scored 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting including four triples. He also added seven rebounds and two assists.
Victor Oladipo — In eight games, Oladipo's shooting just 31.6% from the field, and Saturday night wasn't any better. He made 4-of-14 shots for just nine points. He made no 3-pointers. At least he added six rebounds, five assists, a block, and a steal.
Derrick White — White filled in for Walker (illness) and scored 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting with five assists, two rebounds, two blocks, and two turnovers in 29 minutes. Should Walker sit again, he'd be a nice DFS choice.
Thunder 120, Timberwolves 118
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — SGA neared a triple-double with 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting, nine rebounds, and seven assists. He also had a steal and turned the ball over just twice in 34 minutes.
Anthony Edwards — Edwards got the start and scored 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting with eight rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block.
Jake Layman — The veteran played just 23 minutes but racked up five steals to go along with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting (two made 3-pointers).
Mike Muscala — He scored 22 points all in the first half on 7-of-12 shooting. He made two 3-pointers, all six free throws he took, and added four rebounds and an assist. He left the game in the fourth quarter after taking an elbow to the face.
Mavericks 134, Warriors 132
Stephen Curry — Curry was Shimmy All Over The Place levels of good on Saturday. He scored a ridiculous 57 points on 19-of-31 shooting including 11 3-point makes with five assists, two rebounds, and two steals in 37 minutes. Welcome to the MVP discussion, Steph.
Draymond Green — Watching Green play without a true center in the lineup has been a joy for fans and fantasy managers. He only scored two points, but impacted the game as much as Curry did. He had 15 assists, six rebounds, six steals, and four blocks though he did turn the ball over seven times. Center Draymond is so much fun to watch.
Luka Doncic — The only player who could match Curry's pace was Doncic, who scored 42 points on 12-of-23 shooting including seven made 3-pointers (his final one being the dagger.) He also added 11 assists, seven rebounds, and seven turnovers.
Kent Bazemore — Bazemore had his highest-scoring game of the season, knocking down 7-of-11 shots including two 3-pointers for 20 points. He also had three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
Pelicans 118, Grizzlies 108
Zion Williamson — Williamson scored a game-high 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting with five assists, four rebounds, and two blocks. He also made 9-of-11 free throws.
Brandon Ingram — Ingram scored 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting including five triples. He added 12 rebounds, three assists, and four blocks.
Kyle Anderson — Slo-mo put together a nice night, scoring 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting with four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal.
Jonas Valanciunas — In his first game back since entering COVID protocols on January 16th, Valanciunas scored 23 points on 9-of-11 shots off the bench in 24 minutes. He also grabbed seven boards with two assists and a block.
Lonzo Ball — Ball's hot streak from distance continued as he sunk 4-of-6 for 16 points. He also added seven assists, seven rebounds, one block, and one steal. In his last three games, he's shooting 13-of-22 from 3-point range.
Lakers 135, Pistons 129 (2OT)
LeBron James — He's otherworldly. The 36-year-old scored 33 points on 13-of-26 shooting (three 3-pointers) with 11 assists, five rebounds, four steals, and seven turnovers in 46 minutes.
Jerami Grant — Grant's been worth the lofty contract this year, and he showed why on Saturday. He scored 32 points on 11-of-27 shooting (three 3-pointers) with six assists, four rebounds, two steals, and a block with just one turnover in 48 minutes.
Josh Jackson — Jackson's starting to heat up again. He scored 28 points off the bench on 11-of-20 shooting including 5-of-10 from range. He also dished three assists with eight rebounds, two steals, a block, and four turnovers.
Anthony Davis — Davis was solid, but didn't have a spectacular night against an easy opponent. He scored 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting with five rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal.
Dennis Schroeder — Schroeder has been an awesome upgrade at the point guard spot for L.A. this year. He scored 22 points including all eight free throws he took with eight assists, four rebounds, and three turnovers.
Delon Wright — The back-and-forth fantasy point guard had a solid night with 22 points and 10 assists. He made 8-of-10 shots including four 3-pointers with one steal and four turnovers.