“Magic” Jokic and His Evolution into a Potential NBA All-Star

Dec 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets 117-107. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Standing at six-foot and 10 inches, Denver Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokic is flourishing in his sophomore season in the NBA.

Averaging 18.8 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists through his last five, Nikola Jokic is emerging as a real talent for the Denver Nuggets this season and his enormous potential is becoming reality sooner than expected.

Due to his explosive impact for the Nuggets since the start of the season, the center has become a serious contender for an All-Star place in New Orleans this February. And whilst his team struggled early on in the season, he is one of the principal reasons why this club is now in with a narrow but realistic chance of sneaking into the NBA Playoffs.

Here are a few reasons why he has a legitimate chance at becoming an All-Star:

Nov 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) controls the ball against Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Nuggets defeated the Suns 118-114. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

His Impact on the Game

Cool, calm and collected on the court, Jokic possesses a great poker face, rarely showing too much emotion during an intense matchup. With his incredibly mature and reserved attitude, the young Serbian epitomizes everything a coach wishes to see in one of his young players.

His attitude on and off the court is influential and unnecessary and sometimes foolish fouls aside, the Joker has been majestic. His experience and maturity stands light years beyond his own age; playing in a level almost of his own compared to others similar to his age range. And it has been showcased with his recent colossal success passing the ball.

Dec 8, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) looks to pass as Washington Wizards forward Jason Smith (14) defends during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

He’s Basically a ‘Point’ Center

With 11 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves just the before the new year, Jokic is revolutionizing the center position as he continues to embrace his newly inherited ‘point center’ title. Initially a comical take on the creative giants’ ability to pass the ball, the term ‘point center’ is increasingly becoming a customary description of Jokic’s expansive playing style.

Jokic’s unselfishness and awareness to find the running teammates is admirable and often spectacular to watch. It was most probably his court vision and finesse that made coach Michael Malone place him as power forward at the start of the season in the first place.

But alongside the then starting center Jusuf Nurkic, the Bosnian-Serbian connection did not flourish. And with this, Malone eventually placed the Serbian at center. A decision that paid dividends very quickly.

Nov 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27), forward Nikola Jokic (15) and forward Darrell Arthur (00) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Nuggets defeated the Suns 118-114. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

He’s Influential Toward his Teammates

The 21-year-old’s productivity since seeing extended minutes has sky rocketed. And as the player continues to cement his place in the starting lineup, his offense has prospered. The Joker holds an impressive shooting percentage of around 57% mainly down to his positional awareness and patience on offense. The Serbian rarely forces a shot that isn’t there and more often than not shoots smart high-percentage field goals that ultimately helps his team.

Not only is the Joker’s game thriving but his teammates are thriving off his energy also. Another player aiding his team is Gary Harris, and since returning back from injury the guard has connected well with the eastern European, utilizing his immense vision and passing ability.

The two players linked up impressively in recent fixtures as Jokic’s teammates begin to exploit the center’s playmaking prowess. And as teams start to acknowledge the players’ ability, other Nuggets will need to step up.

Dec 15, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone (left) talks with Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) during the first half at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 132-120. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Malone’s Reliance on Jokic

Down the stretch and into the business end of the season, Malone and the Nuggets will desperately need Jokic’s productivity on the court. The center’s presence will be fundamental in a bid to make a run and clinch that final eighth seed playoff spot come May.

The Nuggets as a team have a considerable mountain to climb in terms of their progression to return as a top NBA team again. And that mountain is arguably a rocky mountain with a 7-9 record at home currently.

But on an individual level for Jokic, whilst his team may just be a transitional NBA team with growing pains, the center is playing at the level of a superstar in the NBA in his position.

And for many, even if he is not credited with a place in a star-studded Western All-Star team come February, the Joker is undeniably becoming an All-Star caliber NBA player and the Nuggets fans love it.

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