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How Jokić's "worst game ever" brought him to Denver


Nikola Jokić is widely considered the best passing big man of all time. That's high praise when you think of guys like Bill Walton and, for those of us who've seen his European games, Arvydas Sabonis. Jokić is an offense to himself, a part of the elite group of players who can't be stopped - you only hope you can slow him down. His journey to the NBA is Hollywood stuff, and as with every good story, it involved a little bit of luck.

First of all, a quick reminder that there was a legit Jokić vs. Nurkić discussion in Denver when they had both of these guys on the roster. Nurk also had a fantastic season before his unfortunate injury, and for a while, it wasn't clear who was getting traded.

As we now know, the Nuggets made the right choice. They looked beyond the (lack of) athletic ability and saw a transcendent player. (also, props to Denver's front office - they obviously have an eye for European players.) While his tremendous performances kept Nikola in Denver, a horrible one brought him there.

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We had a deal in place with Barcelona. Then the unfortunate thing happened, well, very fortunate as it turned out. The last game before signing with Barcelona, Nikola played against Barcelona. That wasn't bad, that was the worst ever.

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Nikola had such a lousy game that Barcelona decided to postpone the contract signing. Current Bulls GM Arturas Karnisovas, working in Denver's front office at the time, got involved, suggested the possibility that Nikola goes directly to Denver and the rest is history.

It may have been luck Nikola had such a bad game just before he was supposed to sign a contract with Barca. But you have to put yourself in a position to get lucky, and that's exactly what Denver did. Their draft record speaks for itself, with the 41st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft as their crown jewel.

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