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YouTube Gold: Best Passer - Nikola Jokic Or Arvydas Sabonis?

You can’t go wrong either way, but one was a little better.

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets - Game Two
 DENVER, COLORADO - MAY 18: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends against Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter in game two of the Western Conference Finals at Ball Arena on May 18, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets went up 2-0 on the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night, and again, Nikola Jokic proved to be a major pain in the...neck, with his second straight triple double.

This video takes a look at what makes him such an unusual player and makes a big claim: Jokic is the best passing big man in NBA history.

Well, maybe.

First let’s define big man. Do you count Magic Johnson and Larry Bird? Both were nearly 6-10 but Johnson played guard and Bird was a forward who played everywhere.

For argument’s sake, let’s rule them out.

And as far as passing goes, let’s split that in to two sections: first, general passing and second outlet passing.

The best big men passers in history, as far as we can see, are Jokic, Bill Walton and Arvydas Sabonis.

The best outlet passers are Jokic, Bill Russell and Wes Unseld and Walton is probably not far behind. Some of the Jokic outlet passes on this video are mind boggling.

Well, we just overlooked Sabonis as an outlet passer.

So maybe this is the way to break it down: Walton is the most fundamentally sound big man ever in every aspect. This cannot be overstated. No big man has ever mastered skills at his level.

But Sabonis and Jokic stand alone as passers. As you’ll see in that video above, Jokic is brilliant. There are unquestionably things that he does that we’ve never seen anyone do before and his anticipation is off the charts.

But look at this video of Sabonis and you’ll see similar talents, plus a flair that led someone - we think Walton - to call him a 7-3 Larry Bird.

Injuries wrecked his career, but Sabonis at his best was off the charts. We think you’d have to take healthy Sabonis over Jokic, but clearly, Jokic is in the conversation. And he was a second-round pick, meaning every team in the NBA missed.