In what many would describe an unsurprising move, Nikola Jokić will miss out on a top three finish in the KIA NBA Most Valuable Player award race for the 2018-19 season.
The NBA has released the finalists for its end-of-season awards. pic.twitter.com/paGHjezcab— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 18, 2019
To be clear, all of those players are excellent, deserving of their placement on the final ballot. In the regular season, each of the above players averaged at least 27 points per game, operating as the first option on their respective playoff teams and carrying them to victories, no matter how narrow. While only Giannis is still participating in the playoff season, both George and Harden were mostly great in the playoffs. George averaged 28.6 points per game in his five contests against the Portland Trail Blazers. Harden averaged 31.6 points per game in his minutes.
Still, Jokić showcased in both the regular season and the playoffs why he may have deserved a better look at his MVP resumé. To be clear, the MVP award is based on the 82 game regular season, but given how much the Nuggets struggled without their superstar on the court, it’s fair to say he possesses the qualities of a typical MVP candidate. In his playoff debut, Jokić averaged 25.1 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game while shooting 50.6% from the field, 39.3% from three, and 84.6% from the free throw line. Great scorer. Creates opportunities for others. Makes winning plays. Only Giannis has performed comparatively.
Jokić will have his opportunity to take part in the award races as his career continues to move forward. The center is just 24 years old, and at such a young age, we may not have seen the best performances from the Serbian star just yet.