Let’s be honest for a second. Most casual NBA fans have no idea who Nikola Jokic is. If you mention the name Jokic the two most likely responses you’ll get in return are “did you mean Djokovic?” and “Joker? That villain from the Batman movies?” That is what happens when you are an international big man playing on a Denver Nuggets team that hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2013 (by the way, the pronunciation is “Yokic”).
However, it is now our duty to make sure people know the name Nikola Jokic. Too many people are missing out on Jokic’s incredibly diverse and entertaining game. Plus, the man loves his jokes:
Seriously, those are painful. Props to Nikola.
Jokic is a player everyone can get behind. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy hearing about a successful professional athlete that used to drink three liters of Coca-Cola every day? Jokic is certainly more relatable to the average fan than the majority of NBA players.
But now to the important stuff: Jokic’s incredible rise as one of the most enjoyable and skilled big men in the NBA.
Early in the 2016–17 season, the Denver Nuggets (and specifically head coach Mike Malone) weren’t sure about the best use of Jokic. Was it alongside (the recently departed) Jusuf Nurkic? Should he start at center? How many minutes should he get each game? Even though the answer was pretty clear to most fans and analysts, it took the Nuggets a couple of months to get it right.
For the months of October, November, and December, Jokic logged less than 26 minutes per game. In January the Serbian played 30.7 minutes per game and is currently averaging 31 minutes per game in February. And unsurprisingly, the results have been great.
For the month of January, Jokic averaged 23.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game on 61% shooting from the field. Jokic has continued that play in to February, averaging 20.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, and an astounding 6.6 assists per game so far.
Jokic has the ability to take over the game with his scoring or his play-making, which has become a staple for the Denver Nuggets offense. It’s not an exaggeration to say Jokic is already the best passing big man in the league.
For the season, Jokic is putting up 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game in less than 27 minutes per game. Also, let me throw this at you —
- Jokic is sixth in the league in field goal percent
- fourth in true shooting percent
- sixth in effective field goal percentage
- second in offensive rating
- fourth in box plus-minus
- eighth in PER
- and seventh in win shares per 48 minutes.
With Jokic leading the way, the Nuggets are poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. How can you not love the Joker?
All statistics courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com