Why the Denver Nuggets should draft Nikola Jovic

Denver Nuggets draft prospect: #3 Marco Belinelli of the Italy National Team in action against #24 Stefan Jovic and #15 Nikola Jokic the Serbia National Team during the 1st round of 2019 FIBA World Cup at GBA International Sports and Cultural Center on 4 Sept. 2019 in Foshan, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets draft prospect: #3 Marco Belinelli of the Italy National Team in action against #24 Stefan Jovic and #15 Nikola Jokic the Serbia National Team during the 1st round of 2019 FIBA World Cup at GBA International Sports and Cultural Center on 4 Sept. 2019 in Foshan, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images) /

With the 2022 NBA Draft right around the corner, the Denver Nuggets could make a splash by taking Nikola Jovic in the first round. Not to be confused with fellow Serbian and back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, the 6’10” teenager possesses one of the most versatile skill sets in this year’s draft class.

Denver currently owns the 21st and 30th picks in the upcoming draft. While they could decide to make their second trade of the offseason before Thursday night, the Nuggets seem likely to keep at least one of their first-round selections.

Either way, Denver would be wise to snag Jovic with one of their picks.

Projected to go late in the first round, Jovic can do it all. He possesses a silky smooth 3-point jumper and above-average playmaking abilities, all while standing at just under seven feet tall.

Due to Jovic’s unique combination of height and versatility, it is hard not to make comparisons to the reigning MVP (not to mention their nearly identical names). 6’10’’ hoopers with legitimate guard skills are hard to come by in the NBA, and Jovic is just that.

At just 19 years old, Jovic already has two years of professional experience under his belt. In 2021, he began playing in the ABA League (Adriatic League) as a member of a Serbian team, KK Mega Basket.

Although he played just four games during his first season, the youngster showed early flashes of potential as he averaged 11.8 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 5.5 assists per game. Impressively enough, Jovic posted these numbers on 55.2 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent shooting from the 3-point line.

This past season, Jovic continued to build his reputation as one of the best, if not the best, international prospects in the 2022 draft class. In his second ABA campaign, Jovic took on a larger role and workload, posting 11.7 points per game while maintaining his impressive long-range shooting.

In 25 games, the smooth Serb nailed 35.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, all while shooting at a much higher clip within a larger sample size.

At first glance, Jovic’s scoring numbers don’t seem to stand out. However, the teenager landed among the ABA’s top 30 per-game scorers during his sophomore season.

Due to the heightened team dynamic and slower pace of European basketball, players in the Adriatic League rarely record high-scoring stat lines. For context, the Adriatic League’s current leading scorer averaged just 17.8 points per game during the 2021-22 season.

In fact, Nikola Jokic averaged just 15.4 points per contest when he was also a member of KK Mega Basket in 2015.

KK Mega Basket has molded and produced many active international NBA talents, such as Jokic, Ivica Zubac, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. There is no reason to doubt Jovic’s ability to continue this trend and add himself to the list of Mega Basket NBA standouts.

Despite the inevitable Jokic comparisons he has drawn, Jovic’s playstyle more so resembles another Denver Nugget: Michael Porter Jr.

After draft night, Jovic would join Porter Jr. as one of the few players in the league who can space the floor while handling the ball and taking defenders off the dribble… at nearly seven feet tall.

Similar to MPJ, Jovic has a shifty step-back three in his arsenal. The Serbian phenom moves like a guard and can run the floor like one.

Based on Jovic’s build and skill set, he has all the makings for a lottery-level talent. Like every other prospect, he does have flaws he will need to work on before he can fulfill his potential.

For starters, he has work to do on the defensive end. While Jovic will likely never develop into an elite on-ball defender, he can certainly improve his help defense and overall decision-making on that end of the floor.

Jovic also has room to grow as a finisher around the rim, due in large part to his relatively thin frame. If he can bulk up a bit more as he adapts to the league, it could do wonders for his inside game.

Assuming Jovic builds more strength over time, he could become a legitimate three-level scorer in the NBA. If the Nuggets do draft him, it will be interesting to see where he ends up in the Denver rotation as a rookie.

With an entire offseason of potential roster changes on the horizon (along with the imminent returns of Jamal Murray and MPJ), Denver’s starting lineup and bench rotation could look much different at the start of the 2022-23 season.

Regardless, it seems that Jovic could carve out a consistent bench role over the course of next season, just as Bones Hyland did during his explosive rookie year.

Thanks to his versatility and size, Jovic has the ability to play multiple positions. Michael Malone could use this to his advantage, creating more lineup flexibility for the team and more individual opportunity for Jovic.

With the recent departure of JaMychal Green, a path to nightly minutes would become easier for the Serb. Veteran Jeff Green struggled mightily during the playoffs, and it seems plausible that Jovic could surpass the aging forward in the rotation as well.

While it is far from certain that a rookie Jovic would become a regular member of the Denver second unit, the Serbian stud has all the talent to do so.

Jovic also possesses the proper confidence and swagger to thrive in the league, something that could certainly lead to a greater minute load. He always looks like he is having fun out there, and he expects big things from himself in the future.

In an interview with Mike Schmitz, ESPN, Jovic expressed his thoughts on adjusting to the NBA:

"“I like NBA playing style — run, shoot. It’s like showtime. I’m big. I can run. I can shoot. I think I’m able to play at that level soon. We’ll see.”"

The Nuggets hosted Jovic and other prospects on 10 Jun. 2022 for a pre-draft workout, according to USA Today Sports.

All in all, Nikola Jovic is a tantalizing prospect in this year’s NBA draft. If they are able to, the Denver Nuggets should draft him without thinking twice.

Next. 3 players most likely to be traded on draft night. dark