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In a refreshing bit of good news after Tuesday’s NBA Lottery disappointment, Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay have been named to the first and second All-Rookie teams respectively, the league announced today.
Jokic received the fourth-most first-team votes, finishing just higher than third overall pick Jahlil Okafor. Mudiay got third-most votes for the second team, barely placing him behind potential rival and second overall pick D’Angelo Russell — albeit with more first-team votes.
It’s great to see Jokic get rewarded for all of his hard work this year, as he took the league by storm and averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He’s the only rookie big man to ever put up those numbers and the sixth rookie in NBA history to achieve those numbers, in good company with the likes of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
The per game numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping but when you look at Jokic’s per-36 stats, there’s no denying the impact he made this year. 16.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.3 steals place Jokic right up there with Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis atop of the rookie ladder.
Statistical extrapolation must always be taken with a grain of salt, as it’s much easier to produce at a higher level in small quantities, but fortunately for Nuggets fans Jokic’s minute limitations were simply due to his stamina — something that will assuredly get better with a full off-season of training with renowned strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess and the logjam of frontcourt players that coach Michael Malone had a bit more trust in late in games.
Jokic is the first Nuggets rookie to be selected to the All-Rookie first team since Kenneth Faried in 2011-12.
Mudiay selected to second-team
Mudiay struggled in the first half of the season, averaging 11.4 points, 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds on 34 percent shooting from the field and 27.2 percent from three, but showed consistent improvement throughout the season. He worked relentlessly with player development coach Dee Brown, particularly with his jumper, and his 3-point efficiency skyrocketed to 36.4 percent from beyond the arc after the All-Star break.
Mudiay also got more aggressive on offense, evident in his jump up from 11.4 points per game to 14.9 after the break and he continued that momentum finishing the last month of the season on a superb 18.8 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting from the field.
Congratulations to the Nuggets’ two promising rookies, the future looks bright and fans everywhere in Denver should be ecstatic to have not only great players on their team, but outstanding human beings as well.