NBA

Jokic, Nuggets Defied All Numbers in Historic Championship Run

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Denver fans poured into the city’s streets on Thursday to celebrate its first NBA championship victory in team history.

It was a well-deserved moment, especially for a franchise which had never made an NBA Finals since its debut in the league in 1977.

However, the odds rarely favored Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, coach Mike Malone and company. Denver entered the 2022-2023 season at +1800 to win the championship, only the tenth-best preseason odds in the league. Even right before the playoffs kicked off, the Nuggets placed with only the sixth-best odds to win behind Milwaukee, Boston, Phoenix, Golden State and Philly.

Denver felt undervalued from the start, even with another impressive Jokic MVP campaign coinciding with a strong regular-season performance.

Yet, Denver pulled through against all the odds, leading to this incredible scene at the championship parade:

Moving forward, Denver faces a mostly calm but critical offseason in an effort to keep its title window open. But, for now, the Nuggets can take the moment in.

The Lead compiled the most impressive, eye-popping numbers behind Denver’s title run this postseason.

Here are just a few of the major ones you need to see:

Jokic by the numbers

Nobody’s legacy improved their stock quite like Jokic’s this postseason. The biggest of which: becoming the 13th player in NBA history with at least two MVPs and a championship under his belt. The rest of the list presents itself as an impressive group of the greatest players ever to step on the court: Bob Pettit, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Using The Athletic’s most recent top-75 NBA players ever list (published in February 2022), Jokic finds himself in incredible company. Using the same list of 12 players above, Jokic’s benchmark was reached by the NBA’s seven best players and eight of the best nine in league history.

Statistically, Jokic’s production remains through the roof with averages of 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game while shooting 55% from the field, 46% from three and 80% from the foul line. Jokic became the second player to average 30 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists per game in a single playoffs since Oscar Robertson in 1963. Jokic is also just one of two players to win a championship in the same postseason while averaging at least 30 points and eight assists per game. The only other: Jordan.

Yes, Jokic propelled himself into the NBA’s all-time Pantheon this postseason. Yet, it doesn’t stop there…

10: Jokic’s playoffs triple-doubles record

Jokic secured a triple-double in ten of Denver’s 20 games this postseason, three more than the previous record held by Chamberlain (seven) in 1967. That’s currently an all-time, single playoff record.

Three 30-20-10 games

Yep, that’s not all. This postseason, Nikola Jokic had three games with at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a single game over his postseason career. Think about that: this occurred just five times in NBA history and Jokic owns three of those instances – two of which took place this year.

The other two 30-20-10 single-game performances: Kareem in 1970 and Wilt in 1967.

Jokic’s (unfortunate) shortcoming

Usually, hindsight is 20/20. But, it’s hard not to feel bad for Jokic in not securing what would’ve been his third-straight MVP this season. Several writers like those at John Hollinger pointed to the importance in how this postseason impacted the ongoing Jokic-Embiid debate.

Of course, props to Embiid for winning the 2023 MVP. His production is nothing to shy away from. With that said, Denver fans were robbed of Jokic becoming the 15th player ever to win an MVP and championship in the same year.

Jokic also narrowly missed becoming the fourth player ever to win three MVPs in a row, something yet to be done since Larry Bird (1984-1986).

The Jokic-Murray one-two Denver punch

Don’t lose Jamal Murray’s impressiveness in the midst of all the numbers. His continued progress as a postseason performer remains one of the biggest reasons Denver won this year. Coming off sidelined seasons for part of 2021 and most of 2022, Murray played himself back into Bubble Murray status with unforgettable playoff memories.

The most impressive: Jokic and Murray became the first teammate duo to get triple-doubles in a Finals game.

Murray averaged 26.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game for Denver this postseason. Across 53 career playoff games, he’s averaged 25.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists with 47/40/91 shooting splits.

Every Batman usually needs a Robin. Look no further that the Jokic-Murray pairing.

Playoff record: 16-4

Denver’s postseason record is tied for second-best in the last 20 playoffs, sitting right next to the 2007 Spurs and just behind the Curry and Kevin Durant-powered Warriors in 2017.

In NBA history, the Nuggets’ single-season winning percentage (.800) ranks 14th all-time. Here’s the rest of the list:

  • 2017 Warriors (16-1)
  • 2001 Lakers (15-1)
  • 1983 Sixers (12-1)
  • 1950 Lakers (12-1)
  • 1999 Spurs (15-2)
  • 1991 Bulls (15-2)
  • 1989 Pistons (15-2)
  • 1982 Lakers (12-2)
  • 1971 Bucks (12-2)
  • 1996 Bulls (15-3)
  • 1987 Lakers (15-3)
  • 1986 Celtics (15-3)
  • 1948 Bullets (9-3)
  • 2023 Nuggets (16-4)

47 years: Denver’s title-less streak (finally) snapped

Over the course of the league’s history, Denver rarely found its way in the championship picture with the likes of David Thompson, Alex English, Carmelo Anthony and past notable cornerstones.

Now, Denver snaps a 47-year streak without a title this postseason after 29 playoff runs since joining the NBA following the merger with the ABA. Prior to this season, that was tied for the seventh-longest streak without a championship in league history.

Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets Championship Bighead Bobblehead!

Off the court and into your collection. The party continues when you bring one of the champs’ biggest names to your collection in Bighead form with this Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets 2023 NBA Champions Bighead Bobblehead.

About Dominic Chiappone

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