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Nikola Jokic leads the pack in ESPN’s latest MVP straw poll

A pretty good sign that Nikola Jokic may be en route to his second consecutive MVP award.

Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

At ESPN, writer Tim Bontemps conducts a yearly MVP straw poll update where he pulls together 100 media members from every market in the league to gauge who might be leading the MVP race throughout the regular season. The straw poll is often a pretty good indication of where the MVP voting currently stands at the time, and in the latest installment, Nikola Jokić shook up the order.

What the voting concluded is that it’s basically a three horse race between Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. We already had a rough idea this was the case, but what we did not know was how those three would shape up in the voting. Jokic appears to have taken the lead, receiving the most first place votes with 62, while Embiid (29) and Antetokounmpo (9) were further behind the Nuggets big man.

Overall, Jokic received 860 total points, with Embiid (719) and Antetokounmpo (593) significantly behind. All three players received a vote meaning none of the 100 media members left any of the three off their ballot, but Jokic definitely had a clear cut advantage in the voting.

With only two weeks to go in the regular season, it truly does feel like IF the Nuggets can avoid the play-in game — AND Jokic continues to play well — then another MVP trophy could be on it’s way to Denver. Where things get a little complicated is if either the Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers find their way to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Both the 76ers and Bucks are one game back of the Miami Heat for first in the East, while the Nuggets are trying to fight off the Minnesota Timberwolves for sixth in the Western Conference. Denver currently holds a two game advantage over the Timberwolves with the two teams set to square off on Friday night at Ball Arena.

That game feels pivotal not only for the Nuggets chances of clinching the six-seed, but also feels like a massive outing as it pertains to Jokic’s MVP race. Jokic could basically put his stamp on winning the MVP once again if he can put together a big-time performance, which we have seen him do against Minnesota a number of times in the past.

There is no doubt which of the three MVP candidates has overcome the most adversity this season. Denver has been without Jamal Murray the entire season and Michael Porter Jr. for most of the year, but here they are still with a chance to get as high as the three-seed going into the playoffs. Jokić deserves significant credit for that.

It would be a tough task as the Nuggets are three games behind Golden State — the West’s current three seed — with only six games to play, but you couldn’t put it past this time. The Nuggets record of 45-31 is incredible when you think about how many things they’ve had to overcome and their superstar big man is a massive reason they are sitting in the spot they are today.

On the season, Jokic is now averaging 26.3 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game all while shooting 57.6 percent from the field. To put into perspective what Jokic’s stats were last season when he won MVP he averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Jokic’s stats are not only just as good if not better than last year, but he is doing more with less and is still finding ways to be the most dominant player in the NBA.

Jokic also has 19 triple-doubles this season and is just two away from tying Wilt Chamberlain for eighth all-time. It feels like even in the mist of another MVP type of season that Jokic and the Nuggets are flying under the radar once again, but this poll surveying media members across the league shows you the respect both parties are starting to receive.

It’s a great feeling to know that with two weeks left in the season that Jokic and the Nuggets have a chance to do something special once again. With just a few more solid performances the chances of winning another MVP for Jokic continues to grow. Here’s to hoping they can close the deal and accomplish something that has never been done by a Nuggets player previously.