Nikola Jokic turns 25 years old today, and we are all grateful for him. During his five seasons in Denver, Jokic has grown into one of the best Nuggets players of all-time in just five seasons, truly elevating the franchise into a title contender.
In his five seasons with the Nuggets, Jokic is averaging 16.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. Jokic broke onto the national scene last year when he made his first All-Star team and was voted First Team All-NBA, which he is following up with another All-NBA performance this season.
Through 55 games this year, Jokic is averaging 20.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game to go along with countless game winning shots and winning plays. It has been a special five seasons with Jokic leading the way and this year has been no different, so why not celebrate his 10 best plays on his birthday?
Now, there were definitely some highlights that just missed the cut and it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 plays, but here goes nothing!
10. Crazy shot against the Toronto Raptors
December 3, 2018: This is one of my favorite plays and should probably be higher than 10. The only reason it is at 10 is because we have to start this list off with a banger and this one does just that. This is — without a doubt — one of the coolest shots I have ever seen.
Even though the shot did not count, it was just unreal how 1.) Jokic actually made it shooting the ball like an overhead pass and 2.) he was barely looking at the basket.
This is quite possibly the greatest shot — that did not count — of all-time.
Jokic finished this game with a triple-double of 23 points, 15 assists, and 11 rebounds as the Nuggets went on the road and beat the eventual NBA Champions.
9. Off the backboard to himself against the Clippers
January 10, 2019: Nikola Jokic is used to setting up everyone else on the court, but this time was a little different. After faking the DHO pass to Jamal Murray, Jokic passes the basketball off the backboard — to himself — and finished the easy lay in with no one around him.
The coolest thing about this play is Jokic planned it all along. Most of the time when a player throws the ball off the backboard to himself, it was not the original plan. When you watch Jokic on this play though... he knew exactly what he was doing.
Jokic also finished this game with a triple-double of 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists to go along with that one incredibly exciting play.
8. Behind the head pass to Wilson Chandler
March 24, 2017: In just his second season in the NBA, Jokic continued to change the game with incredible passes like this one.
Nikola Jokic with the filthy pass!— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) March 25, 2017
This was the year when Jokic’s passing really started to grow into “how did he even see that?” territory. Jokic was making unbelievable passes like this almost on a nightly basis, but this was the play that really started it all.
Denver also came away victorious in this game led by 30 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists from Jokic.
7. Game winner against the Minnesota Timberwolves
November 10, 2019: This bucket came earlier this season and should probably be higher on the list. Jokic has made so many clutch shots in his career and this is one of the best.
Arguably the best part of this game winner is that it came over Karl Anthony-Towns, who some people still want to argue is a better player than Jokic. This bucket truly put that debate to bed as Jokic continues to stake his claim as the league’s best center.
6. Double behind the back against the Kings
December 29, 2019: Jokic went into his bag of tricks on this play, and my goodness was it spectacular. This was just another one of those plays that you are totally unprepared for, then Jokic does something unbelievably awesome.
Jokic left the entire Kings defense in the dust en route to an easy lay in. This is one of those plays that leaves you speechless, which is a common occurrence when watching Jokic.
5. Coast to coast lay in against Golden State
January 2, 2017: a legend was born.
Behind-the-back, coast to coast, against one of the best defenders in the NBA, Draymond Green. This was the first real “HOLY CRAP” moment from Jokic as Nuggets fans knew they had something special once their seven-foot center did this.
This was the play that started it all. Put it in a museum. Plaster it all over the city. Work of art.
4. Game winner to complete the comeback against the Philadelphia 76ers
November 8, 2019: this game was one for the ages. The Nuggets entered the fourth quarter down 21-points and proceeded to outscore the 76ers 35-13 over the final 12 minutes of play.
The most important bucket of the night came with 1.2 seconds remaining when the Nuggets trailed 97-96. It was a broken play as the Nuggets got the ball to Nikola Jokic, he then found Paul Millsap, who proceeded to almost lose the ball, but somehow got it back to Jokic. The rest is history.
Jokic hits an unbelievable game winner that in all honesty, probably should have been a foul as well. It capped off the Nuggets largest fourth quarter comeback in franchise history and gave him 26 points for the game.
Just like he did in the T-Wolves game, Jokic hit yet another game winner over a team that some say has the best center in basketball. In this case, Jokic made a game winer against Joel Embiid’s squad and practically put the narrative to bed as to who the leagues best center is.
3. Sombor shuffle... all of them
Date is infinite, because the Sombor Shuffle will live on forever.
A one-legged thing of beauty as Jokic takes the ball, makes a dribble to the right, and shoots an unreal fadeaway off one leg.
Enjoy. Shoutout to Mamba Out on Youtube for blessing us all with this video.
2. Game winner against the Dallas Mavericks
March 14, 2019: Jokic has made a ton of game winners over the past few years, but this is his only true buzzer-beater. In true Jokic like fashion, the Nuggets big man always seems to leave a little time on the clock once his game winners go through the net.
In this game, Jokic left no doubt as he made an indescribable shot with 0.0 on the clock as the Nuggets stunned Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
The best part about that shot is Jokic was not playing his best game, but the Nuggets went to him anyway. Jokic finished the night with 11 points, but none of that matters when you hit a game winner.
Jokic has grown into one of the most clutch players in the NBA and is someone the Nuggets can rely on when they need a bucket in the closing seconds.
1. 65 minutes in a playoff game
May 3, 2019: this constitutes a play in that... 65 MINUTES IN A PLAYOFF GAME IS ABSOLUTELY INSANE! Especially for a player that everyone says is out of shape, Jokic put the Nuggets on his back in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals last season and even though Denver did not win, that should not take away from what Jokic accomplished.
In 65 minutes, Jokic put together a stat line of 33 points, 18 rebounds, and 14 assists. This all came on an efficient 13-of-25 shooting from the field, 4-of-7 from behind the three-point line. It also was a miracle that Jokic did not foul out playing all those minutes as he somehow only committed four fouls the entire game.
It is a record for most minutes played in a playoff game — Kevin Johnson is second with 62 — and is a record that will most likely never be broken. With today being Jokic’s special day, this is the highlight that should be celebrated the most.
What do you think Nuggets fans, did we get the top-10 right? What other Jokic highlights stand out to you? It is a day of celebration!