Nikola Jokic’s first NBA championship has taken the Serbian into elite company when it comes to all-time statistics, thanks to the Denver Nuggets center’s incredible performances this season.
Jokic has set plenty of records on his way to guiding the Nuggets to their first-ever NBA title, but some of the 6ft 11in star’s contributions have not only laid the foundation to the franchise’s success, but have also separated him out from the rest in spectacular style.
Jokic the man of firsts in an unprecedented season of superiority
The stats list for Nikola Jokic in both the regular and postseason for 2022-23 is a lengthy and impressive one, but there are some that stand out above all others. Namely, Jokic racked up a series of firsts to really highlight his status as a supreme talent.
Jokic is the first player in NBA history to lead a single postseason in points, rebounds and assists. Just let that sink in. Leading in any one of those in the run-in to the finals can be considered a career milestone for many pros, but the fact Jokic dominated in all three this year just underlines how commanding his presence has been on the court.
It doesn’t stop there. In Game 3 of the finals, which the Nuggets won 109-94, Jokic became the first player in NBA history to record a finals game with 30+ points, 20+ rebounds and 10+ assists. He combined to brutal effect with Jamal Murray, as the duo also became the first pair of teammates ever to each notch up a 30-point triple-double in the same game.
Jokic is also the first center to record over 500 points and 100 assists in a single postseason in NBA history, and his 10 triple-doubles in the 2023 playoffs are the most from one player in a single postseason.
How Jokic stepped into the realm of greatness alongside NBA legends
Other awe-inspiring achievements by Jokic during the regular and postseason saw him check in with once-in-a-generation displays.
Jokic is only the fourth center to win multiple regular season MVP awards (2021, 2022) and a finals MVP (2023). The other three players to have done this are Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain.
He’s the first center since Shaquille O’Neal in 2002 to have won the finals MVP award, and the first player in his position to lead the playoffs in assists per game since Chamberlain in 1967.
As the celebrations unrolled around the Nuggets’ victory and Jokic’s performance, there was some buzz on social media about how Jokic had received the ignominy of his draft pick being announced during a Taco Bell commercial during the 2014 NBA Draft.
Nikola Jokic is the lowest draft pick to ever win NBA Finals MVP.
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) June 13, 2023
So, in an undoubtedly satisfying one, Jokic is now also only the third second-round pick to have ever won a finals MVP award, joining Dennis Johnson and Willis Reed in proving the doubters very, very wrong indeed.