Nikola Jokic was the best player in the NBA this season, and per Shams Charania of The Athletic it looks like that will result in him being named the league MVP:
As the 41st pick in the NBA Draft, Jokic is the lowest-drafted player ever to win the MVP award, and the first MVP in Denver Nuggets NBA history. Shaquille O’Neal was the last center to win the MVP, in the 2004-05 season. Jokic winning it in an era that emphasizes the deep ball and freedom of movement for guards is an outstanding achievement, and a testament to the uniqueness of Jokic Ball.
Jokic finished with career-highs per game in points, rebounds and assists, as well as free throw percentage, free throws per game and field goal attempts. Even as an advanced stats darling he set new heights. Jokic led the league in Win Shares, Offensive Win Shares, Win Shares per 48 minutes, Box Plus-Minus, Offensive Box Plus-Minus, Value Over Replacement player and Player Efficiency Rating. He played in every game, maintained his efficiency over increased usage and led Denver to the 3-seed in the Western Conference despite losing Jamal Murray and Will Barton for significant time.
Nikola Jokic may not look like the best player in the NBA standing still, and his flashy highlights are passes and flip shots, not dunks and 40-foot daggers. But when it comes to value, no one lifted his team higher this year or through more adversity. Of the final four teams in the playoffs last year, only the Nuggets remain in the playoffs. The short turnaround devastated many rosters, including Denver’s - but Jokic’s greatest skill may be lifting the fortunes of every roster he is on, in every configuration.
Not bad for a kid from Sombor, Serbia who even in his draft year thought his greatest aspiration might be playing for a top Euroleague club. But as he said, “NBA is NBA, you know.” And now he is the Most Valuable Player in the greatest league in the world.
Congratulations to Nikola Jokic and his family, and all of his supporters. Denver couldn’t be prouder of its adopted basketball son and the heights he continues to climb.