If the 2014 NBA draft was redone, one would have to wonder if Nikola Jokic would be getting similar buzz to that of Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis is a 19 year old center prospect that is listed at seven feet and 220 pounds and put up 10.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 21 minutes per game for Baloncesto Sevilla in the ACB league of Spain. Porzingis shot 52% on two pointers, 32% on threes, and 77.8% at the foul line in 30 games with Sevilla. The buzz on Porzingis has propelled him to a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
What about Jokic? He was the Nuggets' 41st overall pick (second round) of the 2014 draft. He goes 6'11" and 253 pounds. His play in the Adriatic league this season has earned him MVP honors and he has been named the best young player in that league as the Top Prospect, back on April 7th.
Nikola Jokić of Mega Leks is selected for the best young player of the 2014/15 season, his second in the regional competition with the team from Sremska Mitrovica. At the end of his dominant season he was also named the MVP of the regular season.
Talented power forward played 24 out of 26 games in ABA League, and only three times he failed to reach double figures in valuation column! He collected 4 MVP of the round awards in the process. Speaking about the overall player index rankings, Jokić finished on the 1st spot with 527 index points, which is 22 per game which made him the regular season MVP as well. Also, it is worth mentioning that the hero of our story is also the best rebounder of the league! Jokić grabbed 222 rebounds in the season, which is 9.25 per game!
The website article goes on to explain the Top Prospect award:
The Top Prospect trophy replaces the Most Improved Player award, that was handed to Dario Šarić of Cibona last season and that recognizes the best ABA League player of the season who was younger than the age of 22 on July 1 on the summer before the season started.
Not bad company when you are winning awards that Saric, the 12th pick (he might have gone higher had he not inked a new contract overseas just ahead of the NBA draft) of the 2014 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
One has to wonder if the 20 year-old Jokic would have been a lottery pick this season if he had waited to declare himself eligible for the draft. So, while teams take a close look at Porzingis as a lottery prospect, all the Nuggets have to do to add a talented young big to their roster is sign him to a contract.
The Nuggets currently hold the 7th selection in the upcoming NBA draft on June 25th (we'll find out for sure when they pick after the lottery on May 19th). But if they can bring Jokic over this summer, they'll be adding two talented youngsters to their current squad.
Like we saw with Joffrey Lauvergne and his three-year, roughly, $5.2 million contract (the third year being a non-guaranteed deal and a qualifying offer of $2.1M for 2017-18), the Nuggets might be able to get a pretty favorable deal done with Jokic this summer at a likely higher dollar amount.
With seven players currently 24 year old and younger for the Nuggets (Will Barton (restricted free agent), Erick Green, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, Jamaal Franklin, Ian Clark (restricted free agent), Lauvergne), this team could be moving in a totally different direction.
Bringing Jokic to Denver this summer, should be a priority for the Nuggets.
Check out this interview with Jokic when he was in Portland in 2014. Jokic's brother played basketball at the University of Detroit and Jokic had some comments about NCAA hoops and how he didn't quite yet feel ready for that as a 19 year-old (last season) before he was drafted by the Nuggets.