IF the reports are true Nikola Jokic is about to become a very rich man. The Denver Nuggets will reportedly decline his team option this season making Jokic eligible for a five-year, $145 million dollar extension. The pudgy Serbian has still got a way to go to become a household name in the league, but don’t for a second be fooled into thinking he isn’t already a star. Some eyebrows will be raised over Jokic’s extension and there will no doubt be a lot more people watching him in 2018-19.
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WITH the help of my housemate J-Lo (who is a diehard Nuggets fan) I have watched my fair share of Nikola Jokic in recent times. On the surface, he doesn’t seem like a top-20 talent, but that’s definitely what he is. He seems slow and unathletic, yet he thrives below the ring with his high basketball I.Q and soft touch on full display. Fans marvel at that thing LeBron James can do on the court passing the ball and Jokic is more than capable of making equally breathtaking plays.
HIS numbers might not be as sexy as other All-NBA bigs like Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid, that doesn’t mean that Jokic isn’t excelling though. This season he took his per game’s to another level messing around and throwing up an 18/10/6 line. Not eye-popping, but when you dig a little further you find out just how rare these averages are. At just 23 Jokic is one of the youngest players to ever such a stat line. The other players to have 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists each night for an entire season? Kevin Garnett, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Russell Westbrook and Larry Bird. Not bad company to be associated with.
THE fact that Jokic got a new extension isn’t surprising. The former second-round pick is spearheading this young Denver side up the standings and they came within an inch of qualifying for playoff action last season. As an integral part of their nucleus he needed to be paid and making room for him now is as good a time as any. It’s no secret that the path to a good rebuild is fueled by the draft and hitting on draft picks is crucial in pro sports. However, extending the right players after drafting them is sometimes even more important.
DENVER already owes Paul Milsap and Gary Harris a ton of money, but they do have a few expiring contracts coming up too. Potentially losing Wilson Chandler ($12.8mil) and Kenneth Faried ($13.7mil) from their books would ease the pressure and allow them to also resign Jamal Murray, keeping the young parts of their team intact. It, of course, helps that Michael Porter Jr is on a rookie contract too.
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LOCKING down the key to future success is always good news and Jokic’s extension was always a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’. Often snubbed from the Unicorn conversation there’s no denying that Denver has a one of a kind talent on their hands. He needs to make strides as a defender and he is still young. However, there’s no rush for Denver to be good, especially given the fact that Golden State is still at the peak of their powers. If things continue to trend in this direction though, then the sky’s the limit for the pudgy Serbian.
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