Nikola Jokic may be nicknamed "The Joker," but Jamal Murray's story proves it might be time to call the Nuggets superstar after another supervillain instead.
The unpredictability of The Joker
The Serbian center has played in the league for seven years, all for Denver Nuggets. He was nicknamed "The Joker" partly due to wordplay with his surname and partly due to his personality on the court.
Nikola’s first nickname was "Big Honey," which came from teammate Will Barton, but it didn’t stick. Meanwhile, The Joker came from former sharpshooter teammate Mike Miller. Nikola liked it, and it has been his alias since. According to rumors, Miller believed The Joker suited Jokic more because of his unpredictability on the court. When you look at his stats, Jokic atypical big-man numbers back that up.
Last year's MVP is averaging 6.1 assists and 83% from the free-throw line in his career -- numbers that are not expected from your average 6’11”, 280-pound beast. Nikola is also deceptively quick for his size and possesses above-average court smarts. The 26-year-old gives defensive nightmares because it’s always a pick your poison scenario when playing against Jokic and the Nuggets with his passing ability.
"Brother, I have 47"
Jokić's teammate and close friend Jamal Murray shared a funny story about the Nuggets big man. It happened during a late January game against the Jazz last season when Nikola tied his career-high with 47 points in a 128-117 win at Ball Arena. Despite his incredible scoring performance, Murray remembers Utah's defensive specialist Rudy Gobert waving off a double team and trying to go up against Jokić one on one.
"Joker's got 47 right at this point, right against Gobert," Murray said. "He catches the ball on the block and they're trying to send like half help, trust in the double team, right. And Gobert goes, 'No I got him, I got him.' Jokic has the ball and he goes, 'Brother I have 47.' I was like 'Oh, you’re a savage brother.'"
Off-the-court, Jokic seems like a mild-mannered behemoth. But when he steps on the court, he's a monster. That's why defenders always have to put their guards up when going up against him. Don't let his demeanor fool you; the 6-11 Serbian is a killer. And judging by this story, "Two-Face" might be a more suitable nickname for the 26-year-old.
The Denver Nuggets reigning MVP is proof that today’s big men can dominate without pounding the ball inside. In his case, Jokic possesses an array of the inside-outside game on top of his rebounding and passing skills. He may look slow and meek, but his abilities and performance say otherwise.