The Denver Nuggets yesterday agreed to decline Nikola Jokic’s $1.6 million team option for the 2018-2019 NBA season, making him a restricted free agent. This allows the Nuggets to match all outside offers, but they are expected to reach a long-term agreement before even receiving any offer sheets.
Jokic plans to sign a five-year maximum contract to stay in the Mile High City. He deserves every penny of his planned deal.
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic will have his team option declined for next season to become RFA, and sides plan to reach agreement on a five-year, $146.5M maximum contract, league sources told Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 25, 2018
In the 2014 NBA Draft, the Nuggets selected Jokic with the No. 41 overall pick in the second round. He intrigued scouts with his high basketball IQ, three-point shooting, and playmaking skills, but fell into the second round after many questioned his ability to play against NBA-level athletes.
Jokic decided to stay in the Adriatic League for one more full season before joining the Nuggets in 2015. He finished that season as the Adriatic League regular season MVP and ABA League’s top prospect. After three full professional seasons in Europe, Jokic took his talents to Denver. It didn’t take long for him to find a role in the rotation.
Jokic appeared in 80 games and started in 55 during the 2015-2016 NBA season. He averaged 10 points, seven rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, but finished the final month and a half averaging a double-double. At season’s end, Jokic earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team and nearly won Rookie of the Year. The Nuggets knew that summer Jokic was the steal of the 2014 draft.
His sophomore campaign was far from a slump. Jokic burst onto the NBA scene averaging 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game while shooting a career-high 58 percent from the field. In that same season, Jokic totaled six triple-doubles. Only Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and LeBron James had more than him.
This statistical jump put Jokic in contention for the NBA Most Improved Player Award. He placed second behind Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokunmpo.
In his third NBA season, Jokic took another massive step forward. He averaged 18.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. It was the second consecutive full season in which he upped his averages in points, rebounds, and assists per game.
Jokic also reached double figures in triple-doubles this past season, placing fourth in the NBA behind Westbrook, James and Ben Simmons. Unfortunately, he did not make an All-Star team.
Jokic’s emergence proved he’s worthy of a max deal. He’s improved his stats in every NBA season and has become a serious triple-double threat on a nightly basis.
Since Jokic became the focal point of the Nuggets offense the last two seasons, they’ve placed in the top-six in points per game averaging 110 points or more per game. In a league filled with offensive stars, Jokic is finally getting a salary worthy of his talents.
In a span of five days, the Nuggets drafted Michael Porter Jr, confirmed Wilson Chandler will opt into the final year his contract and are expected to lock Jokic up long-term. Things are looking well in the Mile High City. Locking up Jokic ensures a bright future.