Videos by OutKick
Nuggets’ perennial MVP candidate Nikola Jokic was expected to have his way in the paint during their opening round series with the Warriors. The problem? Defensive menace Draymond Green has made a return in time for the matchup and has neutralized Jokic, to say the least.
Jokic is 9 for 28 from the field with Draymond as his primary defender. Uh oh.
Jokic when defended by Draymond this series:
9-28 FG (32%)
Draymond only had one shooting foul against him. pic.twitter.com/HiSZCZ5AAc
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 19, 2022
And we were able to find some footage on Twitter of every possession Draymond Green matched up with the Joker. Total lockdown:
Draymond’s defense on Jokic last night. 🔒🔒
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) April 19, 2022
Nikola Jokic is one of, if not the best offensive big man in the game because he’s a natural passer that operates to perfection in space. Big men most often play him soft defensively and focus on disrupting passing lanes Jokic always manages to exploit. That strategy hasn’t worked, but that’s largely been the game plan around the league.
Draymond decided to stick to Jokic like a glove, limiting all space on the floor. Sure, crowding the Nuggets’ star creates more space for shooters elsewhere, however it’s harder for Jokic to see these openings with a defender in his line of sight. Green is essentially forcing a player that spent the entire season playing a certain way and then forcing an adjustment on the fly. It’s working since the Warriors ran the Nuggets out the building for the second game in a row to take a 2-0 series lead.
Let Jokic score a team-high 26 points and diminish his ability to be a playmaker clogging the his airspace? That’s a solid plan right there. Nikola Jokic averaged eight assists a game in 2022 yet only four helpers last night. If this trend continues the Nuggets may as well book their flights to Cancun now. They’re toast.