Nikola Jokic leads the NBA in kicked ball violations with 45

Nikola Jokić possesses the most versatile skills in the entire league. Assists – he will dish it out. Points – he will score them. Rebounds – he grabs them in droves. His defensive impact is questionable despite what the metrics might imply, but there is one area where his game-changing abilities carried over to the other end.

Last season, the two-time reigning MVP led the entire league with eight kicked ball violations. He surpassed that 11-game total in the season. With a month left in the regular season, Jokić lapped The Association with 45 kicked ball violations. The second most common kickball violator recorded 17. As a reference point, Nikola Vucevic led the league with 13 in 2022.

NBA Advanced Analytics are more invasive than a colonoscopy, and we finally found a polyp in Jokić’s game. A century ago, Bill Russell began his reign as King of the Blocks. Jokić can hardly skip a phone book. But place a bounce pass below the knees, and it’s likely to send a screamer to the courtside seats.

The difference between Russell and Jokić is that kicked balls are illegal. The problem is that the NBA treats her like an offense and Jokić takes advantage of the easy kicked ball fine. The solution is more expensive penalties.

Go over there, Draymond Green

Draymond Green was the league’s kickball king for years, but in his advanced years he uses his fists more than his feet. Jokić dethroned him.

This trend is worrying because it’s no coincidence either. In November when the current season was still in its infancy, Denver nuggets Head coach Michael Malone praised Jokić’s skill with his feet. Already in November Malone praised Jokićs use of its feet and even went so far as to support it.

“I asked our staff to dodge the NBA charts with a kicked ball and Nikola may be the best I’ve ever seen,” Malone told the Denver Post. “He would have been a damn good goalkeeper. Save kick. He’s amazing not only with his hands but also with his feet at picking and rolling pocket passes to break up. He picks up many of them not only with his hands but also with his feet. And in its hoop activity, Breaking Up plays eight boards. His IQ, anticipation and hand-eye coordination are just outstanding.”

Jokić’s penchant for defence, as if he were preparing for Serbia’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers by deflecting passes with his feet, is simmering beneath the surface. However, Zach Lowe’s acrimony over Jokić’s penchant for the recent installment of his eponymous podcast has propelled him to the forefront of NBA discourse.

What do the rules say?

In 2022-23 NBA Rule Book, a kicked ball only resets the shot clock. Pursuant to Rule No. 6, Section I, If the ball is kicked or hit during a throw-in, the ball is returned to the original throw-in spot with all rights remaining.

Under current NBA rules, intentionally deflecting passes with the wrong limb is beneficial to defense. Imagine handballs in soccer being a throw-in. The defenders would windmill all over the box.

In sports, everyone is looking for loopholes that they can exploit. The Philly Eagles almost became Super Bowl champion through the effort Rugby style pushes quarterback sneakers on the back. Jokić has found his, and the rate at which he starts reaching down that well is escalating. This is a copycat league.

The NBA needs to drop the hammer on Jokić and any other lazy defenders using this strategy. How? According to the FIFA Rules of Football, it is up to the referees to award a yellow card for a serious handball offence. Any ball kicked that is considered aimed should be a tech and a free throw. A one-game ban is automatically imposed after five kicked ball violations. Continue that in five game increments.

If that doesn’t get the message across, nothing will. One more time, Jokic changed the game for the better. Give him his dead flowers. Nikola Jokic leads the NBA in kicked ball violations with 45

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