The NBA MVP award is considered one of the toughest awards in sports. It’s not an easy task to find the best player in the league and none other than Nikola Jokić is this season’s clear cut MVP candidate. Jokić is having another exceptional year and is leading the NBA in almost every statistical category. His career high in points scored in a season is 32, and he’s currently on pace to break that mark. His career high in rebounds in a single season is 20, which also seems to be within reach with only three games left before the end of the season. His career high in assists in a single season is 11, which he’s on pace to break this year as well. The only category where Jokić currently
It’s been quite some time since the Denver Nuggets were a contender for the NBA championship. Two years to the day after winning the 2013 NBA title, the Nuggets were eliminated in the first round of the 2013-2014 NBA Playoffs. Although they made it back to the playoffs the following season, and again the following year, they have yet to return to the heights of their 2013-2014 season and have instead gravitated toward the middle of the Western conference. Nikola Jokić is the most improved player on a Nuggets team that is currently one win away from making the NBA Playoffs.
The most valuable player in the NBA may not be the guy who scores the most points, rebounds the most, or leads his team to the most wins. No, the most valuable player in the modern NBA is none other than Nikola Jokić of the Dallas Mavericks.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was a historic pick for NBA MVP because he checked off at least three boxes in the first column. Jokic became the sixth foreign-born player (or fifth if you count Tim Duncan’s hometown, the U.S. Virgin Islands) to win the award. In a league once dominated by big men, Jokic is the first center to be voted MVP this century. Shaquille O’Neal became the last in 2000 (that was in the 20th century, if you don’t want to count to 10, start with zero). Jokic turned 26 in February, so he still has plenty of time if he doesn’t get injured. He was both dominant and durable – an impressive combination in a shortened 2020-21 season. Jokic is one of 11 players to have played in all 72 of his team’s games, and one of five to have started each of those games. It’s been a great season for the Joker. He scored more than six points per game, bringing his production to 26.4 points per game, set a career-high with 10.8 rebounds per game and set a new standard with 8.3 assists per game. But beyond the numbers, Jokic is the first MVP of his kind in three completely different categories.
Nikola Jokic – first Serbian MVP
. Prior to the 2020-21 season, 24 players of Serbian descent played in the NBA. The first is Vlade Divac, who moved from Serbian professional club Partizan to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1989. Eight Serbs have played in the NBA this season. Besides Jokic, Nemanja Bjelica, Bodgan Bogdanovic, Marko Guduric, Boban Marjanovic, Aleksej Pokusevski, Alen Smailagic and Milos Teodosic were also part of the team. Before joining the NBA in 2015, Jokic played three seasons with Mega Bemax in the Serbian professional league CLS. During two of those years the team also played in the Adriatic regional competition. In his final season as a 19-year-old, Jokic averaged 18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per game at home and 15.4 points and 9.3 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per night in the Adriatic Circle. He became the Denver Nuggets’ first center in his second season, replacing Jusuf Nurkic, also known as… Beast of Bosnia. Nurkic was traded to Portland just before the 2017 trade deadline. It worked out well for Denver. Jokic will almost certainly make his third NBA All-Star team this season, and he was an All-Star the past three seasons. It’s no coincidence that the Nuggets were a playoff team in each of those campaigns, after missing the postseason in 2014-18.
Jokic also became the first Denver Nuggets player to be named NBA MVP
. With his selection as the 2020-21 MVP, Nikola Jokic has removed the Denver Nuggets from the list of NBA teams that don’t have one. It is only the third time since the Nuggets entered the NBA in 1976 that they have had a player in the top five of the poll. Hall of Fame member David Thompson finished third in the 1977-78 season and Jokic finished fourth in 2018-19. It should be noted that the players were voted MVP prior to the 1980-81 season. So technically, Jokic is the only Nuggets player to finish in the top five of the media poll. In the history of the Denver franchise, another player has won the MVP award. In the 1969-70 season, when the club was still playing in the American Basketball Association, rookie Spencer Haywood received the honor. If Derrick Rose is the youngest MVP in NBA history, Haywood is the youngest, period. He was 20 years old when he became a rookie with the Denver Rockets. (The franchise changed its name in 1974 in anticipation of the merger to avoid conflict with the Houston Rockets.)
Who is the lowest pick that was named MVP? This is Nikola Jokic, and
Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets and Jusuf Nurkic (27) of the Portland Trail Blazers were teammates in Denver before the Nuggets decided to keep Jokic and trade Nurkic. | Steph Chambers/Getty Images The Denver Nuggets took Nikola Jokic with the 41st pick in the second round in 2014. He is the only MVP chosen in the second round or later since the NBA abolished territorial selection in 1966. There is one player who is harder to classify. Three-time MVP Moses Malone began his career in the ABA, where he was selected in the third round by the Utah Stars in 1974. But he was technically never drafted by an NBA franchise. In 1975, the New Orleans Jazz used their 1976 first-round pick to acquire the rights to Malone, but later rescinded them. So Malone wasn’t technically drafted. Before Jokic, the lowest position in the draft for a player to be named MVP was #15 overall. Steve Nash and Giannis Antitokounmpo finished 15th. Statistical and biographical data provided by Basketball Reference and RealGM. COMPARED TO: Denver Nuggets MVP Nikola Jokic was welcomed to the NBA with beef and melted cheese
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