Nikola Jokic leads the NBA in foul shots with 45
Nikola Jokić has the most versatile skills in the entire league. He assists – he will serve it up. Points – he scores. Bouncers – grabs them en masse. His defensive impact is questionable, despite what the metrics say, but there is one area where his game-changing ability shifts to the other end.
Last season, the two-time reigning MVP led the entire league with eight fouls. He surpassed it in a total of 11 games this season. With one month left in the regular season, Jokić committed 45 fouls. The second most frequent kickball offender recorded 17. FYI, Nikola Vucevic led the league with 13 in 2022.
NBA advanced analytics is more invasive than colonoscopy, and we finally found an octopus in Jokić’s game. A century ago, Bill Russell began his reign as the king of the blocks. Jokić can barely jump through the phone book. But put a rebound below the knee and you’re likely to send a screamer to court sessions.
The difference between Russell and Jokić is that kicked balls are illegal. The problem is that the NBA treats them as infractions, and Jokić takes advantage of the easy penalty for kicking balls. The solution is to impose more expensive penalties.
Move over, Draymond Green
Draymond Green was the kickball king of the league for years, but in his advanced years he tends to use his fists more than his feet. Jokić dethroned him.
This trend is worrying because it is not accidental either. In November when the current season was in its infancy, Denver Nuggets Head coach Michael Malone praised Jokić’s footwork. Back in November, Malone praised Jokić he uses his legs and even went so far as to support him.
“I asked our staff if there was a way to deflect shots in the NBA, and Nikola is probably the best I’ve ever seen,” Malone explained to the Denver Post. “He would have been a hell of a goalkeeper.” Kick save. He is amazing, not only with his hands, but also with his feet to disrupt pocket passes in pick and rolls. He picks up many of these not only with his hands, but also with his feet. And in his activity around the basket, the breakup plays eight boards. His IQ, anticipation and hand-eye coordination are off the charts.”
Jokić tends to defend as if preparing for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in Serbia by directing passes with his feet, bubbling under the surface. But Zach Lowe’s propensity for Jokić on the latest edition of his eponymous podcast pushed him to the forefront of NBA discourse.
What do the rules say?
The 2022-23 NBA rule book, a kicked ball merely resets the shot clock. According to Rule 6, Section I, if the ball is kicked or hit during any throw-in, the ball must be returned to the original throw-in place with all rights.
Under current NBA rules, it is beneficial for the defense to deliberately deflect wrong-limbed passes. Imagine if handball was a throw-in in football. The defenders would be windmilling all over the box.
In sports, everyone is looking for exploitable loopholes. THE Philadelphia Eagles he almost became a Super Bowl champion with his deployment rugby style kicks in the back the quarterbacks sneak up. Jokić has found his, and the pace at which he begins to reach into that well is increasing. It’s a copycat league.
The NBA needs to drop the hammer on Jokić and any other lazy defender who uses this strategy. How? According to FIFA football rules, referees have the discretion to issue a yellow card if the handball offense is egregious. Each punt that is deemed appropriate must be a tech and a free throw. Automatic one-game suspension after five kicked fouls. Continue this in five-player increments.
If that doesn’t get the message across, nothing will. Jokić again changed the game for the better. Give him your dead flowers.