On June 8th, 2021, Nikola Jokić was awarded one of the NBA’s most notable titles: Most Valuable Player for the regular season. This momentous accomplishment meant that the basketball superstar also made history in three ways as he became the first Serbian, the first Nuggets player, and the first player with the lowest draft pick to be given the annual MVP award.
Even towards the beginning of the 2020-2021 season in early January, Jokić had already demonstrated his basketball prowess and MVP-deserving status through numbers in the first 14 games. For all these reasons and more, it’s clear that the Serbian-born center is one of the biggest threats in the current landscape of the sport. In this article we explore five essential reasons why he was deserving of this title.His Size and Stature
There’s no denying that Nikola Jokić’s physical presence is striking. At 6-foot-11 and 284 pounds, Jokić excels in nearly every area of the game, from passing to scoring, rebounding, and more. His basketball IQ is extremely high and that is also evident in the way he uses his body to make influential plays.
However, the Serbian player was once not so well-known in the league and his body strength reflected that. Since he first started in Denver, Jokić decreased his body fat percentage so much so that many fans referred to him as ‘unrecognizable’. This transformation has allowed the Nuggets player to outwit his competition and speed past opponents rather than just sluggishly get by. Nowadays, Jokić can be found training in the weight room, committed to maintaining that incredible physique.His Elite Passing Ability
Out of all of Jokić’s strengths, there’s no doubt that the one that stands out the most is his passing ability. As of recently, he is averaging an incredible 8.7 assists per game. However, it isn’t just that the forward is good at moving the ball on the court, but also that the calculated movements he does make actually have great outcomes a large majority of the time.
In fact, last season around 63% of Jokić’s passes were converted into points scored by fellow teammates. He is creative and adaptable in his passing, always finding the open man in a way that few players can.He's an All-Around Fan Favorite
Given the way Jokić's displays his immense talent on the court, it isn't surprising that the star center is one of the most beloved basketball players in the league today. In Denver, fans adore him at home, and likewise abroad in his native country of Serbia he is viewed as a major celebrity. Nuggets fans are already some of the most loyal sports supporters around, and since Jokić's entrance into the NBA in 2014, they have never left his side. The Joker has a way of demanding attention from a crowd with his game-winning shots and monumental passes.
There are few other players in the big leagues that have been able to create such a strong wave of fandom. It doesn't take attending more than one game at the Ball Arena to see the Jokić fan effect play out in real life. Especially now that sports betting sites in Colorado are growing, Jokić enthusiasts have more ways to show their support for NBA's top passing big man. A player that has drawn comparisons to other phenomenal athletes in the sport like Lebron James and even the legendary Larry Bird, Jokić has an uncanny ability to mesmerize fans while stacking up point after point on the board.
He Continuously Makes Basketball History
The first time Jokić made history wasn’t when he secured the MVP award this past season. Not only is the Nuggets forward one of the most unlikely MVPs in NBA history but he also has broken and upheld many different records during his reign in Denver.
Perhaps most impressively is the record for fastest triple double which he completed in a cool 14 minutes and 33 seconds in a 2018 game against this year’s Final victors, the Milwaukee Bucks. Not to mention that the number 15 also has an Olympic silver medal under his belt.He Possesses a 'Team-First' Mentality
It’s one thing for a basketball player to have elite playing abilities, but it’s another thing for them to take their team into account and work with them in order to reach the top. Jokić has been described as having a ‘team-first’ mentality which helps him to make the unbelievable plays he does on the court. Even early on in his career people were taking note of this, stating the Nugget had a ‘refreshing personality’ in which his genuinely and humble character shone bright on and off the field.
Nuggets supporters can rest knowing that Jokić wants to be in Denver as much as his fans want him there, as has already expressed he would like to stay with the franchise for the entirety of his career.