Although ranking the top 30 NBA players in today’s game is an incredibly difficult task, The Last Word on Pro Basketball staff has taken it on. Coming in at number 10 in the countdown is Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić.
Top 30 NBA Players
Number 10 – Nikola Jokić
Hailing from Sombor, Serbia, Jokić began his professional career playing for his home country in the Serbian League. His tenure in the Serbian League lasted three seasons (2012-15) and in his final season, he averaged 18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds.
In 2014, Jokić was selected 41st overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. He didn’t officially join the team until a year later. In July of 2015, he signed with Nuggets after averaging 8 points and 6.2 rebounds in five games during the Summer League.
Ever since he arrived in the league, Jokić has played a major role in the evolution of the center position. His playing abilities have helped Denver earn a second-consecutive post-season appearance, as well as earned him a five-year $148 million max deal in 2018.
Standing at seven feet tall with a 7′ 3″ wingspan, Jokić’s length gives him an advantage in two aspects of his game: rebounding and shooting. He leads the team in rebounding, averaging 10.2 rebounds per game. When Jokic is on the floor, this opens up multiple opportunities for the Nuggets to score. As a result, Denver is ranked sixth in second-chance points. Jokić also leads the team in scoring, averaging a career-high 20.2 points a game.
In addition to rebounding and scoring, Jokić is also a skilled facilitator. He is the team leader in assists, averaging 6.9 per game, as well as being ranked eighth in assists among players this season. Denver is ranked fourth overall in assists.
Although he is skilled at rebounding and shooting from his length, Jokić lacks strength for his position. While Jokić can perform well in the paint, he doesn’t possess the quality to necessarily “attack” the paint. This overall can make him vulnerable at times, especially when going against the likes of a Joel Embiid or Anthony Davis.
Other areas that would need some improvement are athleticism and speed. In today’s NBA landscape, the game is more fast-paced and requires the centers at times to do more than the ordinary. Jokić’s speed and agility are not quite there with the league’s current standards. This has hurt the Nuggets in times where fast-break plays would be needed for fast-paced teams. A reason why he lacks speed and agility has been tied to his weight. However, since the NBA break, he has been noticeably slimmer. Still, there is no telling on whether the weight loss will make a significant impact on his game.
In just five seasons in the league, Nikola Jokic has had his fair share of career accolades. He has won Western Conference Player of The Week six times since 2017 and has made two consecutive appearances in the NBA All-Star Game. Furthermore, Jokić has also made the 2016 All-Rookie First Team, as well as the 2019 All-NBA First Team.
Last Word on Pro Basketball Top 30 NBA Players Ballots
We believe in full transparency in the top 30 NBA player rankings so we are going to disclose the ballots of our player rankings and where each contributor had each player ranked.
Tyler Marling – Site Manager – 12th
Chase Gage – Managing Editor – 13th
David Knight – Marketing Manager – 8th
Zack Kircher – Associate Editor – 9th
Matthew Waldman – Associate Editor – 12th
David Ward – Author – 10th
Avinash Chauhan – Contributor – 10th
Adam Zigner – Contributor – 13th
Albert Dadson – Contributor – 14th
Dylan Guest – Contributor – 10th
Raheem Bashir – Contributor – 17th
Nathan Levine – Contributor – 17th
Bill Huan – Contributor – 10th
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