Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Denver Nuggets guard and former Los Angeles Lakers player, holds Nikola Jokic in high regard, considering him on par with Lakers star LeBron James, with the only difference being James’ superior jumping ability. Caldwell-Pope’s appreciation for Jokic stems from the fact that the Serbian center has played a pivotal role in guiding the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals.
"I feel like the only difference is that Bron can jump higher than Jokic."
— NBA (@NBA) May 17, 2023
Having been part of the Lakers championship-winning team in the 2019-20 season alongside James, Caldwell-Pope recently expressed his belief that the previous Lakers roster was stronger than the current one he is facing in the Western Conference Finals. While both James and Jokic possess exceptional playmaking abilities, James’ athleticism sets him apart and makes him a more challenging player to defend compared to Jokic.
In Game 1 against the Lakers, Jokic displayed his incredible passing skills, recording 14 assists en route to a triple-double. He also contributed 34 points on an efficient 12-of-17 shooting, including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, and grabbed 21 rebounds. It was a dominant performance by Jokic, but it’s worth noting the impressive showing by the 38-year-old James for the Lakers as well. James finished the game with 26 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, and a block, shooting 9-for-16 from the field.
Caldwell-Pope acknowledges his fortune in playing alongside two exceptional talents like Jokic and James. However, he highlights that Jokic must lead his team to an NBA Finals victory to truly draw comparisons to James. Despite his individual success, Jokic has yet to advance beyond the Western Conference Finals, and the Nuggets have never won an NBA title.
As the Lakers-Nuggets playoff series continues, fans can anticipate an enthralling display of the unique skill sets possessed by James and Jokic. The upcoming Game 2, scheduled for Thursday, May 18 at the Ball Arena in Denver, promises to be an intriguing matchup between these two extraordinary players.
Dominant LeBron James Shines Against Nuggets, Lakers Seek to Even the Series
In the recent matchups between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, LeBron James proved to be a key factor for his team’s success. Out of the three games he played against the Nuggets this season, the Lakers won two of them with James in the starting lineup. His impact was evident as he showcased his skills and versatility on the court.
During the first encounter, despite a 110-99 loss in Denver, James displayed his leadership by contributing 19 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds. Just four days later, he bounced back in a 121-110 victory on their home court, leading the Lakers with 26 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.James has an impressive playoff record, averaging 28.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 7.1 assists over his 16 seasons. In the current playoffs, he has maintained a strong performance, averaging 23.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game
. Reflecting on the Lakers’ 132-126 defeat in game one of the Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets, James attributed the loss to a slow start by his team:
“It took us a half to get into the game… They punched us in the mouth to start… They set the tone in 24 minutes, and we were playing catch-up for the next 24,” James explained.
During the first half of that game, James and Anthony Davis were the only Lakers players to reach double digits in scoring, while the Nuggets had four players contributing at least ten points. To level the series, the Lakers will need increased scoring contributions from their role players.
In summary, LeBron James has been a vital presence for the Lakers in their matchups against the Nuggets. His ability to lead, adapt to matchups, and exploit weaknesses could be crucial for the Lakers’ success as they strive to even up the series.
Let us know if you think Lakers can make the comeback in the comments section.