The NBA MVP race this year is one of the closest three-man races in league history.
I’m not usually a fan that cares too much about the MVP award, but Nikola Jokic’s season for the Denver Nuggets is just too crazy to put second to anybody.
“The Joker”, with just two games left on the season, is averaging 27 points, 13.5 rebounds and 8 assists on 59-34-81 splits. Ranking top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, FG% and EFF, and top 15 in steals, the only center in the league in the top 40 for steals.
Oftentimes, I’ve seen Jokic be called a defensive liability, especially in the pick and roll. However this isn’t really Jokic’s fault. With Jokic being the entire offensive unit, Jokic has to be on the court as much as possible so the Nuggets run a drop coverage for pick and rolls and allows Jokic to not only avoid situations where many foul on the pick and roll, but also play passing lanes, where he is one of the best in the league at with his deceptive length and defensive IQ, another thing that has gone under many voters radar.
Despite all of the stats and impacts Jokic can have, nothing quite tells the story as well when you look at the roster and then see that they are just half a game back from the Jazz for the fifth spot in the always-competitive Western Conference.
Though the Nuggets did make good acquisitions with Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon, the absence of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. is irreplaceable on any night. This has been painfully obvious all year with no other player even averaging over 15 points a game, Jokic’s playmaking has become even more important to a lot of players that struggle to create their own shots. The efficiency displayed is even more impressive when considering that he hasn’t had another scoring star to take some of the attention off him, even with the increase in field-goal attempts.
Now to the advanced stats.
I have not been a fan of people using them as their primary focus but some of the simpler ones such as a PER of 32.8 and true shooting percentage of 66.3% are pretty good indications of Jokic’s dominance, where Jokic will most likely set a new all time record for highest PER in a season.
For Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokoumpo, they have had amazing seasons as well. Embiid possibly becoming the first center to lead the league in scoring since Shaq, and Antetokoumpo adding a more consistent and comfortable jumper to his repertoire to his already scary size and athleticism. These three bigs have flipped the NBA on its head from its guard orientated play.
Though I want Jokic to repeat, this MVP will be well deserved by whoever.
Colton Fast is a Nickerson freshman studying journalism