Nikola Jokic: The Dark Horse MVP Candidate

     It’s no secret that Nikola Jokic has been the best center in the league since last season. With passing skills that rival the best point guards in the game and the ability to score from everywhere, I believe that Jokic can make a legitimate run at the MVP.

     Throughout NBA history, the MVP trophy has not lived up to its name. The award is rarely given to the most valuable player, and it usually ends up in the hands of the best player on one of the best teams. Since 1985, only three MVP winners played on teams that were not top two in their conference. In 1988, Jordan took home MVP while the Bulls were the third seed, in 1997, Malone won MVP as a third seed which was tied for first, and, most recently, in 2017, Westbrook won as a sixth seed while averaging a triple-double. As we could see, the MVP basically has to play on a top-three team in his conference, and I think the Nuggets can easily manage to cruise in behind the Lakers and Clippers as a third seed. 

     The Joker also has the mind-boggling stats to back up this MVP run. As of now, four games into the regular season, Jokic is averaging a triple-double with 24.5 points, 13.5 assists, and 11.5 rebounds per game. Though I would agree that the impressiveness and rarity of triple-doubles have diminished since Westbrook began to average them every season, averaging one as a seven-foot tall center would still be extremely impressive, and likely enough to warrant an MVP. 

Via: milehighsports.com

     Finally, he has the media on his side. Nikola Jokic is one of the most loved players in the NBA because of his humor and flashy playstyle as a center. As of now, there haven’t been any false narratives created to make him look bad, which is a good sign for anyone hoping to win over the votes of the media.

     To me, the major X factor in Jokic’s quest for an MVP lies in the reliability of Jamal Murray. Due to his playoff run last year, expectations were set extremely high for him this season and he has underperformed significantly so far. In order for Jokic to win MVP over LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kevin Durant, he’ll really need a great team record, and that is unachievable if Murray continues to play at a low level.

     I decided to make this post because I didn’t see Jokic in many MVP conversations when the season started, and even though he has been playing at a high level for a few years now, he is still slept on by many NBA fans.

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