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Nikola Jokić (/ˈnɪkɔːlə ˈjɔːkɪtʃ/, Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Јокић; born February 19, 1995) is a Serbian professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The center is a three-time NBA All-Star and has been named to the All-NBA Team twice, including a first-team selection.
Nicknamed "the Joker", Jokić was selected by the Nuggets in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft. He was voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2016. In the 2018–19 NBA season, while leading the Nuggets to the Conference Semifinals, he received his first All-Star and All-NBA First Team selections. Jokić ranks among the top 10 on the all-time list of the NBA players with the most triple-doubles, where he is the leading European player, and he holds the record for fastest triple-double (achieved in 14 minutes and 33 seconds). He also won an Olympic silver medal at the 2016 Rio Games.
Jokić was born in Sombor, Serbia. He grew up in a cramped two-bedroom apartment that housed him and his two brothers, both parents and grandmother. His father is a retired agricultural engineer. Jokić developed a love of basketball early in his life playing with his two older brothers who he was a decade younger than. Strahinja, the oldest brother, played basketball in Europe and Nemanja, the second oldest, played college basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy. The brothers are friends with former NBA player Darko Miličić. Jokić also loved horse racing as a child and competed as an amateur, a passion he still holds today.
Professional career Mega Basket (2012–2015)
Jokić played youth basketball in Vojvodina Srbijagas, where he became a dominant figure and received interest from bigger teams. In the summer of 2012, Jokić signed a contract with Mega Vizura, although in the first season with the team he played mostly for their junior team in 2012–13. At the age of 17, he appeared in 5 games of the Serbian League and averaged 1.8 points and 2 rebounds in 10.2 minutes per game. In the 2013–14 season, he saw more minutes on the court for the senior team. Over 25 Adriatic League games, he averaged 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He also played 13 games with the team in the Serbian League and had similar production, averaging 10.9 points, 6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
2014–15 season Following the selection in the 2014 NBA draft and the departure of Ratko Varda, he became one of the team leaders in the 2014–15 season. In the first game of the Adriatic League, he led his team to a 103–98 win over MZT Skopje, by scoring 27 points and grabbing 15 rebounds for a total index rating of 44. He was named the MVP of Round 1. On November 3, he recorded 17 points, 12 rebounds and season-high 8 assists for a total index rating of 40, in a 90–84 victory over Zadar. For such performance, he was named the MVP of the Round 6. On February 7, he scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a 77–88 loss to Szolnoki Olaj.
After the elimination by Partizan Belgrade in the semifinals of the Serbian League, Jokić parted ways with the team to pursue an NBA career. In 14 games of the Serbian League, he averaged 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while shooting 56.6% from the field.
Denver Nuggets (2015–present)
On June 26, 2014, Jokić was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the 41st overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
In the summer of 2015, Jokić joined the Denver Nuggets, one season after being drafted. On July 28, 2015, he signed a contract with the Nuggets after averaging 8.0 points and 6.2 rebounds in five summer league games for the team. On November 18, 2015, he had a then season-best game with 23 points and 12 rebounds in a 109–98 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. On January 10, 2016, he recorded a career-high nine assists in a 95–92 win over the Charlotte Hornets. On February 1, he recorded career highs of 27 points and 14 rebounds in a 112–93 win over the Toronto Raptors. On April 8, he set a new career high with 15 rebounds in a 102–98 win over the San Antonio Spurs. At the season's end, he finished third in the 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year Award voting and earned NBA All-Rookie First Team honors.
On July 9, 2018, Jokić signed a five-year, $148 million maximum contract extension with the Nuggets. On October 20, 2018, in the Nuggets' second game of the season, Jokić recorded 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a 119–91 win over the Phoenix Suns. He joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to post a triple-double with 30 or more points without missing a field goal—Chamberlain did it twice, in 1966 and 1967. He also became just the second Nugget to record a triple-double in the first two games of the season, joining Fat Lever. Jokić went on to earn Western Conference Player of the Week honors for the first week of the season, becoming the sixth player in franchise history to win the award three or more times, joining Alex English, Dikembe Mutombo, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups. On November 3, he had a season-high 16 assists and 10 rebounds to go with seven points in a 103–88 win over the Utah Jazz. On November 9, he had a season-high 37 points and tied his career best with 21 rebounds in a 112–110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. For his efforts in 2018, he was recognized as the Serbian Player of the Year by the Basketball Federation of Serbia.
On January 5, he scored a then season-high 39 points in a 123–110 win over the Charlotte Hornets. His second Player of the Week honor came for games played from December 31 to January 6. On January 8, he had his fourth triple-double of the season with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 103–99 win over the Miami Heat. It was his 20th triple-double of NBA career. At age 23, he became the third-youngest player to reach 20 triple-doubles; Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson were both 22 at the time of their 20th. He became only the ninth player in NBA history to record 50 career triple-doubles, as well as only the second center to do so behind Wilt Chamberlain. Jokić also became the third fastest player to reach 50 career triple-doubles, with only Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson doing it faster than him.
On March 17, in a 129–104 win over the Charlotte Hornets, Jokić surpassed Dikembe Mutombo for most double-doubles in Nuggets' franchise history. On April 1, Jokić was named Western Conference Player of the Month, for the second time, for games played in March. Doing so, he became the only Nuggets' player in franchise history to win the award twice in a single season. On April 4, Jokić had 16 assists in a 119–109 win over the Orlando Magic. As a result, he marked his 81st career 10-assist game, passing Wilt Chamberlain for the most double-digit assist games by a center in NBA history.
National team career
Jokić defending Kevin Durant at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
See also: 2016 Serbia men's Olympic basketball team Jokić was a member of the Serbian U-19 national basketball team that won the silver medal at the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. Over eight tournament games, he averaged 7.1 points, 5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He represented Serbia at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, where he averaged 17.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while earning tournament MVP honors.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Serbia won the silver medal, after losing to the United States in the final game 96–66.
On May 24, 2019, Jokić announced he would play for Serbia at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. At the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the national team of Serbia was dubbed as favorite to win the trophy, but was eventually upset in the quarterfinals by Argentina. With wins over the United States and Czech Republic, it finished in fifth place. Jokić was the second-best player on the team behind Bogdan Bogdanović, averaging 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists over eight games, while shooting 68.0% from the field.
Nikola Jokic 2020-2021 Stats
51 PTS 26.3 TRB 10.9 AST 8.7 FG%57.1 FG3%42.2 FT%85.8 PER 31.2 WS11.4
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