Nikola Jokic isn’t the fastest or most graceful player that you’ll ever see on a basketball court. When you saw him play for the first time, especially earlier in his career when he was heavier, you wouldn’t be blamed for wondering why he was an on an NBA team.
That perception usually changes very quickly, though, as soon as he does something like make a touch pass to someone behind him, hit a contested three-pointer, or use his patented ‘Sombor Shuffle’ to create space for a jump-shot.
This season, he helped the Denver Nuggets to the third seed in the league while averaging 26.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 8.3 APG and 1.3 SPG while only committing 3.1 turnovers. He’s been the heart and soul of the team, especially after Jamal Murray suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
It’s not easy to manage things without your co-star, but Jokic did just that.
Jokic also didn’t get into the way of Michael Porter Jr.’s rise, and instead found ways to share the load with him so that both players could flourish. This was especially evident in Game 6 of their series against the Blazers, where Michael Porter Jr. scored 22 points in the first quarter to keep them in the game. Jokic struggled in that first half with only 9 points, but then single-handedly cut the Blazers’ 14-point lead in the third quarter by dropping 20 points in the period when things went cold for MPJ.
The Joker had plenty of competition for the MVP award, including Joel Embiid, who led the Philadelphia 76ers to the best record in the east. There was also Steph Curry, who led the league in scoring at age 33 and almost took a depleted Warriors squad to the playoffs. There was also Chris Paul, who helped carry the Suns to the second seed in a loaded Western Conference.
But when looking at who has the biggest impact on his team, there was little argument from voters about who deserved first place. Jokic received a whopping 91 first place votes. Five other players received first place votes, and they combined for a total of 11.
As expected, Jokic thanked his teammates for helping him get the award.
Congratulations are well-deserved. Now let’s see if Jokic can help the Nuggets overcome the Suns, who are proving to be difficult opponents.