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NBA

Nikola Jokic named the 2021-22 NBA MVP

The ‘Joker’ fended off stiff competition from the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo to clinch the league’s top individual award .

Paul Rudder
Update:
The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic is the 2021-22 NBA MVP
EZRA SHAWAFP

The NBA crowned a new MVP, only he’s not new. This is his second straight award.

The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic is the 2021-22 NBA MVP

According to an official league announcement on Wednesday, the speculation is finally over and the votes are in, Nikola Jokic has won the 2021-22 NBA MVP award. It is in fact the second consecutive year that the Serbian has won the league’s top individual award. Jokic apparently received 65 of a possible 100 first-place votes to go with a total of 875 points. The 76ers’ Joel Embiid weighed in with 706 total points and Giannis Antetokounmpo with 595. Jokic now matches second placed Giannis Antetokounmpo with back to back awards with the ‘Greek Freak’ having won a pair of his own during the 2018-19 and ‘19-20 seasons.

Nikola Jokic’s performance and the Joel Embiid battle

While his assists stand out, Jokic actually managed to improve in almost every single one of the categories that matter across the season. Indeed, the ‘Joker’ finished with career highs per game in points with 27.1, rebounds with 13.8, and steals with 1.5. If that wasn’t enough Jokic also upped his field goal percentage to a career high 58.3%. Last but not least there was also the matter of his highs in free throws with 379 and 3-pointers with 97 posted.

This perhaps is where things get tricky. As was widely reported throughout the season, the battle between Jokic, Embiid and Antetokounmpo was intense, but where Embiid specifically was concerned it was an out right war. Embiid of course won the scoring title with an average of 30.6 points per game. It must be said that of the three it was Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks who finished with the highest position of the trio when they finished third in the Eastern Conference with a 51-31 record. Jokic’s Nuggets were a No. 6 seed in the West and went into a first round series against the Golden State Warriors with high hopes. In the end they were unceremoniously eliminated by the Dubs.

Why did the NBA name Nikola Jokic MVP?

While the debate will likely continue for some time depending on where your loyalties lie there are few things to consider. Yes it is true that each of the three players had to deal with all kinds of obstacles across the season. Embiid had to face the loss of and the turmoil created by Ben Simmons, who demanded a trade request and then subsequently refused to play until it was granted. Then there was Giannis who spent a lengthy period of time playing at center due to the absence of the injured Brook Lopez. Yet it must be noted, that in both their cases, the situations they faced eventually came to an end in that Simmons was traded to the Nets and Lopez returned. Where Jokic is concerned, the situation was not so simple. The long term absence of Jamal Murray and minuscule participation of Michael Porter Jr. were severely detrimental to the team with both stars forming an integral part of the Nuggets set up. Fortunately, there was Jokic. Quite simply the now two time MVP carried his team for the entire season with limited resources. At that point is the decision to name him this year’s MVP so hard to understand?

As was previously said, the debate won’t end any time in the near future, but when considering the previously mentioned factors, Jokic’s ability to carry the Nuggets all the way to the playoffs while missing the team’s other two best players, is nothing short of sensational. What the Nuggets’ big man lacks in style or stats, he most definitely makes up for in grit, ingenuity and plain old winning mentality.

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