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While the rest of the NBA was busy underestimating the Denver Nuggets and their incomparable center, Nikola Jokic, Denverites have been convinced that the Serbian superstar is the best basketball player in the world for some time. And after being announced as the first Denver Nuggets player—as well as the lowest ranking draft pick—to ever win the NBA MVP award Tuesday afternoon, the Joker undoubtedly proved just that. In honor of Jokic winning the highest esteem, we reminisced by examining his most brilliant plays from this year. Let each one serve as a reminder of why he deserves deserves this moment in the MVP sun.
10. 99 Pass Vision Unlocked
April 1, 2021 vs. Los Angeles Clippers | Win 101-94
Add Reggie Miller to the growing list of NBA commentators amazed by Jokic’s passing ability. After drawing a double team from the Clippers during an early April contest, Jokic whips a no-look pass to a cutting Aaron Gordon for an easy bucket and a foul.
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9.Shooting for the Stars
April 19, 2021 vs. Memphis Grizzlies | Win 139-137
More often than not, there has been a pot of gold at the end of Jokic’s rainbow shots. After receiving a pass behind the three-point line, Jokic buries a clutch shot in double overtime against the Grizzlies.
8. Traveling Europe in Two Steps
February 23, 2021 vs. Portland Trail Blazers | Win 111-106
This season, Jokic showed the world that the Eurostep move isn’t just reserved for elite shooting guards. After muscling past Enes Kanter, Jokic uses a nasty version of the move to evade Gary Trent Jr. and then finishes the play with a strong dunk to put an exclamation point on a dominant performance against the Blazers.
7. Playing His Joker Card
March 26, 2021 vs. New Orleans Pelicans | Win 113-108
Is there an NBA center who has more tricks in his bag than the Joker? After receiving a pass near the high post against the Pelicans, Jokic sheds Steven Adams with a quick spin and then executes a sweet Eurostep move to glide past the helping defender for an easy bucket.
6. Air Jokic
January 14, 2021 vs. Golden State Warriors | Win 114-104
For a 284-pound center, Jokic possesses remarkable agility. After receiving a pass near the low post, Jokic bamboozles James Wiseman by quickly spinning toward the baseline and then slamming a reverse dunk while drawing a foul on the rookie.
5. Buzzer Beater to Save the Nuggets
January 7, 2021 vs. Dallas Mavericks | Loss 124-117 in Overtime
Jokic has proven that he has the clutch gene. With the Nuggets trailing the Mavericks by two points, Jokic receives an inbound pass, takes one dribble, and drains a tough fadeaway shot over Willie Cauley-Stein to beat the buzzer.
4. Finding a Needle in a Haystack
May 11, 2021 vs. Charlotte Hornets | Win 117-112
Jokic’s remarkable court vision allows him to take advantage of the smallest of gaps in the opposing team’s defense. After receiving a pass against the Hornets inside the three-point line, he takes one dribble and then throws a one-handed, cross-court pass that splits two Hornets defenders and finds Austin Rivers for a wide-open three.
3. All the Way from Serbia
May 13, 2021 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves | Win 114-103
Jokic’s “Sombor Shuffle” has left many NBA defenders shaking their heads this season. With the shot clock ticking down against the Timberwolves, Jokic uses his patented move to drain a tough basket over the outstretched arm of Karl-Anthony Towns.
2. Seeing is Believing
April 16, 2021 vs. Houston Rockets | Win 128-99
Some of Jokic’s dimes this season have made opponents and spectators alike question whether he has eyes in the back of his head. Against the Rockets, as Kelly Olynyk comes to double him in the low post, Jokic, nonchalantly, flips the ball over his shoulder to a cutting PJ Dozier for a wide-open layup.
1. Point Center
January 5, 2021 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves | Win 123-116
Jokic established this season that he is one of the best passers in the league. After grabbing a defensive rebound against the Timberwolves, Joker takes a couple of dribbles before delivering a pinpoint bounce pass that hits JaMychal Green in stride for an easy dunk.
Honorable Mention from the Playoffs
June 1, 2021 vs. Portland Trail Blazers | Win 147-140
Even though the MVP is a regular-season award, this special playoff moment couldn’t go unacknowledged. With the Blazers doubling him near the high post, Jokic motions to teammate Austin Rivers, deceiving the surrounding defenders. Then he somehow manages to throw a lofted, cross-court pass over the outstretched arm of Robert Covington to MPJ in the corner for a dagger three.