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To all the teams that passed on Nikola Jokic in the 2014 NBA Draft, the joke is on you. Looking back at his draft prospect write up, his strengths far outweighed his weaknesses. So why did he fall to the second round into the Denver Nuggets lap? Teams were scared off by his lack of athleticism and lateral movement. Oddly though, his basketball IQ and feel for the game were off the charts. Another underrated characteristic was his work ethic, which was also highlighted as a strength.
He came into the league with zero fanfare or hype. This was a true blessing. With no expectations, he was allowed to develop at his pace without public scrutiny, which is something first rounders rarely get. In his rookie campaign, he nearly averaged a double double (10 points and 7 rebounds) and more importantly, played 80 games. Denver was thrilled and knew they had something good in Jokic. He has done nothing but improve since then. His points, rebounds, assists, steals and free throw percentage have increased every season. The most underrated part of his game is his passing ability. This makes him a triple double threat every night.
What he lacks in speed and athleticism, he makes up for with a ridiculously high basketball IQ and a savant like feel for the game. Those things can not be taught and keeps him one step ahead of his opponents. He has diligently worked on his body and has filled out his 6’10” frame nicely. He his now reaping the benefits of those offseason workouts. He can now hold his own with any big in the league. If his trajectory continues this way, All NBA is within reach. Jokic would join a select group of second round picks to make that list. Another thing scouts and front offices can’t measure is heart and desire, something he has an abundance of. In the new NBA of highlight reel dunks, Nikola Jokic has both feet firmly on the ground and is carving out his niche the old fashion way, by earning it.