Nikola Jokic has done more than enough to win the NBA MVP award

Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) /

Nikola Jokic has done more than enough to win the NBA MVP award. 

There seem to be a lot more names in the NBA MVP discussion this late in the season than in years prior. Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan, and Luka Doncic are all having incredible seasons that are deserving of the league’s most prestigious individual award.

But there’s one guy playing better basketball than anyone right now. That man is Nikola Jokic.

On Sunday night against the red hot New Orleans Pelicans, the Serbian big man put together a 46-point triple-double in Denver’s overtime win over New Orleans. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Jokic became the first player in the past 25 seasons to have 30 or more points in the fourth quarter and overtime while also shooting 90 percent from the field.

Plus, the Joker became the second player in NBA history to put up a 45-point triple-double on over 70 percent shooting. The first was Wilt Chamberlain.

As any basketball fan knows: Being in the same company as Wilt Chamberlain in any statistic is quite an accomplishment.

Jokic followed up that performance with another triple-double. On Monday night, against a barebones Golden State Warriors squad, Jokic scored 32 points on 12-17 shooting from the floor, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out 13 assists in the Nuggets victory.

He now just needs six more triple-doubles to pass Wilt Chamberlain for the most in NBA history by a center.

Joel Embiid may be the betting favorite to win MVP on most sportsbooks, but it’s hard to find a consensus in the MVP discussion that doesn’t favor Jokic winning for the second season in a row. Just listen to what Steve Kerr had to say in his post-game press conference after going up against the Joker on Monday night.

"[via Yahoo! Sports]“We played against the reigning MVP, who probably should win it again. I don’t have a vote, but Jokic is just an unbelievable player and was spectacular tonight. He makes all his teammates better. He makes defense so difficult because no matter what you do, he’s got a counter for it. He’s playing the game at such an easy pace and things look so smooth for him out there. With our defense already coming into this game struggling, he’s a tough guy to face when you’re not well-concerned at that end of the floor.”"

The numbers Jokic is putting up are ridiculous. He’s averaging 25.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game while shooting 57.3 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from 3, per ESPN. Oh, and by the way, he just so happens to have the highest PER in NBA history at 32.53. The game has literally never seen anything like this.

The thing that’s most impressive though is that Jokic is putting up these big numbers and winning.

With just under 20 games left in the regular season, the Nuggets (39-26) are sitting as the sixth seed in the Western Conference as of now and are just a game and a half behind the Utah Jazz for the fourth seed. They have won nine of their last 10 games and are 22-10 since the start of 2022.

They have done this all without two of their top three players: Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Murray has been out all year still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered during the 2020-21 season. Porter Jr, on the other hand, played in only nine games this season before undergoing back surgery.

Denver’s second-leading scorer is Will Barton at 14.8 points per game and right behind him is Aaron Gordon at 14.6. No disrespect to Barton, Gordon, and the rest of the Nuggets but nobody’s mistaken them for all-stars.

It’s so rare for a team to be this good and not have another all-star caliber player.

Look at the top teams in the league. You’ll notice that each team has at least two all-stars or all-star caliber players.

Boston has Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Chicago has DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Golden State has Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Miami has Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Milwaukee has Giannis and Khris Middleton. Philadelphia has Joel Embiid and James Harden. Phoenix has Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Utah has Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

The only other team that is like the Nuggets with one star is the Dallas Mavericks with Luka Doncic and a bunch of role players. You could throw the Grizzlies in there as well with Ja Morant but Memphis’ next five best players past Ja are all better than Denver’s five best past Jokic. The same can be said about the Mavericks past Luka, even without Kristaps Porzingis who was traded right before the trade deadline.

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The Nuggets may get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, but the MVP is a regular-season award and there is nobody who has been more valuable to his team this season than Nikola Jokic.