Who has the brighter future: DeMarcus Cousins or Nikola Jokic?

Does Nikola Jokic have a brighter fantasy future than the veteran DeMarcus Cousins? Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.

Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's André Snellings, Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe.

Looking ahead to the long-distance future, who is the better keeper: DeMarcus Cousins or Nikola Jokic?

Jim McCormick: Cousins claimed huge statistical margins in rebounding and scoring this season, but he's also 27 and in his eighth season. If we roll it back to Boogie's third pro campaign at age 22, matching up with Jokic, now 22 in his third NBA season, the Serbian wonder is clearly further along at this stage of his career.

Jokic is averaging 18.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG and a ridiculous 6.0 APG with solid efficiency this season; compared to a slash of 17.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 2.7 APG for Cousins' third campaign.

Even in this nascent stage of his career, Jokic is seventh in the NBA in offensive win shares with 7.9 (a player statistic which seeks to distribute credit for team success to the individuals on the team). Cousins sported two offensive win shares in his third season.

While Jokic struggles to protect the rim on defense, his career rebounding percentage (18.6 percent) is nearly identical to Cousins' (19 percent). This evaluation process would have likely resulted in me selecting Jokic even if Cousins hadn't suffered a devastating Achilles injury this season.

Kyle Soppe: I think your dynasty team is off to a great start with either one of these stars, but if given the choice today for the next let's say five seasons, give me Jokic. Both players are extremely versatile, and that is a must, given the direction of the NBA, so give me the younger option who is not coming off of a ruptured Achilles.

Cousins is great, and his counting numbers are essentially impossible to match (especially this season -- 3.2 blocks-plus-steals per game? Come on!), but I can't find one reason why the Nuggets can't develop Jokic into a similar fantasy option, but without the day-to-day concerns that come with the hot-headed Cousins.

While Boogie has developed into a big who can run the offense, Denver is positioning Jokic to be the offensive leader who just happens to be a big. It may sound like a distinction without a difference, but I think that minor modification in role will give Jokic a career ceiling that can match 2017-18 Cousins with his production floor being higher for a longer period of time.

André Snellings: This one is clearly Jokic, for me. Even without the Achilles injury, Cousins had already reached his athletic peak and, if he stays in New Orleans, he will continue to have to work with/around Anthony Davis, who is still on the way up and putting up huge numbers himself.

Jokic, on the other hand, is still on the way up. He was a consensus first-round pick this season anyway and, according to the Player Rater, is currently 10th by average on the season, behind Cousins, who is sixth. However, Jokic got significantly better as the season progressed, the Nuggets started running their offense through him full time, and he ranks third in the Player Rater over the past 30 days.

Jokic, as an offensive hub, fits perfectly with the Nuggets' perimeter players of Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton, all of whom are natural scorers. So, when you factor in their current levels, their career trajectories, and yes, Cousins' challenging recovery from his ruptured Achilles tendon, Jokic has the best keeper value of the two.