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Playoffs 2019

How Nikola Jokic's postseason debut compares with Hall of Famers

Even after a regular season in which he made the All-Star team and dragged his Denver Nuggets squad to the second-best record in the Western Conference, Nikola Jokic entered this postseason with his fair share of critics.

Those same critics who roared after Jokic struggled in Game 1 of the first round against the San Antonio Spurs, in which he finished with just 10 points on 4-9 shooting, have since gone quiet.

Why?

The 24-year-old Serbian centre has delivered to the tune of 24.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game, a stat line that's only been matched once in NBA postseason history, coincidentally by another 24-year-old by the name of Oscar Robertson.

Robertson is an iconic Hall of Famer and one of those names that demands instant respect whenever it flutters in the breeze of any topical NBA discussion.

But he's not the only one that Jokic's postseason coming out party reminds us of.

Scoring like David Robinson

Jokic this postseason: 24.9 points per game

David Robinson in his first postseason: 24.3 points per game

Although The Admiral may have been a rookie when he got his first taste of the postseason, he was not your ordinary rookie as he was already 24-years-old, the same age as Jokic right now.

Robinson, of course, would go on to become an elite scorer in his prime, winning the scoring title in 1993-94 after dropping 71 points in the final game of the regular season.

Critics sometimes point to Jokic's relatively low scoring totals as proof that he can't be a true No. 1 option offensively that takes over games. By out-producing the likes of Robinson, Jokic is well on his way to putting to bed that particular criticism.

Rebounding like Alonzo Mourning

Jokic this postseason: 11.8 rebounds per game

Alonzo Mourning in his first postseason: 9.9 rebounds per game

Though never truly a dominant rebounder, Mourning is still a Hall of Fame centre that had four different seasons in which he averaged double-digit boards, including his rookie campaign of 1992-93.

In his first postseason in 1993, Mourning started all nine games while averaging over 40 minutes per contest. Like Jokic, he too made it out of the first round.

Passing like Russell Westbrook

Jokic this postseason: 8.8 assists per game

Russell Westbrook in his first postseason: 6.0 assists per game

The passing is one area where there really is not a great comparison for Jokic, who is a one-of-a-kind talent among bigs. At nearly nine dimes per game so far in the playoffs, Jokic is threatening to average the most assists over a single postseason by any centre in league history.

How prolific has he been as a passer? He's in the vicinity of Magic Johnson, who dished out 9.4 per game during his maiden voyage in the postseason.

Westbrook's had three different playoff runs in which he led the NBA in assists. His first playoff appearance came back in his second season in 2010 when he handed out 6.0 per game for the Thunder playing alongside Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Stealing like Kevin Garnett

Jokic this postseason: 1.6 steals per game

Kevin Garnett in his first postseason: 1.3 steals per game

Let's get one thing clear right off the bat: Jokic isn't remotely the level of defender that Garnett proved to be over the course of his career.

One of the most versatile defensive bigs of all-time, Garnett was the rare breed that could switch onto anyone and was just as menacing on the ball 25 feet from the basket as he was protecting the rim on the block.

For Jokic to be averaging more steals than Garnett did not only in his playoff debut but in 10 of his 14 postseason runs speaks volumes to the way he's performing on that end of the floor.

Finishing like Wilt Chamberlain

Jokic this postseason: 50.3 FG percentage

Wilt Chamberlain in his first postseason: 49.6 FG percentage

Chamberlain is one of the most efficient scorers of all-time, a load on the low block that punished everyone with his towering and physical physique. He led the NBA in FG percentage nine times, trailing only Shaquille O'Neal, who did it 10 times, and twice led all players in the postseason. He also shot under 50 percent in each of his three postseason appearances.

Jokic is currently making just over half of his shots from the field with an array of crafty floaters, layups, elbow jumpers and 3-pointers. By adding volume to his scoring without sacrificing efficiency, Jokic is taking a big step forward offensively in the playoffs.

Accepting charity like Reggie Miller

Jokic this postseason: 90.9 FT percentage

Reggie Miller in his first postseason: 90.5 FT percentage

Nobody talks or writes about Jokic's consistency from the free throw line and yet it's another area that separates him from almost everyone else at his position. Completely immune to the hack-a-big strategies often times deployed this time of year, Jokic has knocked down over 90 percent of his attempts at the foul line this postseason.

That's even better than noted shooter Reggie Miller, who also cracked 90 percent in his postseason debut and ranks among the 10 most accurate free throw shooters in NBA postseason history.

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