In June of 2014, the second round of the NBA Draft was well underway. The Minnesota Timberwolves had just selected Glenn Robinson III from the University of Michigan with the 40th pick. ESPN’s Draft Show then went on a commercial break.
As a Taco Bell commercial played, the ticker on the bottom of the screen silently announced that the Denver Nuggets’ pick was in. As Taco Bell advertised their new product, the Quesarito, the ticker read ‘Nikola Jokic PF – Serbia’
Eight more commercials, for Toyota, Pep Boys, Transformers, Johnny Appleseed, Dr. Scholls, Jagermeister, The Bridge, and A/C Pro followed. When the Draft Show returned, no highlight reel of Jokic was shown, not a single word of analysis was spoken, his name was barely mentioned.
Seven years later, in June of 2021, Jokic becomes the lowest player ever selected in the draft to win league Most Valuable Player.
After his selection in 2014, Jokic stayed in Europe. He played the 2014-2015 season with Mega Vizura in the Adriatic League.
Following the end of the 2015 season, he began playing for the Nuggets. In his six years with the team, his points, assists, and rebounds per game have all increased nearly every year.
Jokic has been selected to the all-star team each of the last three years. He was selected to the All-NBA First Team in 2019, and the All-NBA Second Team in 2020.
His ever-improving play culminated in the best year of his career and perhaps the best single-season by a center in league history, certainly in the last 20 years.
Jokic played all 72 games of the shortened season and averaged a career-high 34 minutes a game. He also averaged career highs in points (26.4), rebounds (10.8), assists (8.3), and free-throw percentage (86.8).
Jokic became only the third player in NBA history to average at least 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. He joins Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook in the all-time NBA history books.
He led the NBA with 732 made field goals and 60 double-doubles, while ranking second in triple-doubles with sixteen.
At only 26 years old, he broke the Nuggets’ franchise records for career double-doubles and triple-doubles.
Jokic used his abilities as one of the greatest passing big men of all time to lead the Nuggets to a 47-25 record in the Western Conference. Despite the team’s all-star point guard, Jamal Murray, tearing his ACL, Jokic was able to keep the team competitive down the stretch of the regular season, finishing 3rd in the West.
Others receiving votes
Jokic received 91 of the 101 possible first-place votes for the 2021 Kia NBA MVP. Joel Embiid, Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, and Derrick Rose each also received first-place votes. Overall, Embiid came in second and Curry in third.